Have you ever experienced conflict with a spouse, child, parent, family member, in-law, ex, friend, church staff, church member, or co-worker?
What do you consider the greatest litmus test for the times when you, or those around you, experience conflict?
Do you consider:
How they have personally treated you?
How you have personally seen them treat others?
Their usual character?
Your usual character?
How you have treated them?
The world is rampant with grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and relational hurts.
Grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and ongoing hurt can bring out the absolute worst in people…and we all have the possibility of this due to the hurt, or past hurts, in our lives.
When a person hurts us, or someone we love, most people do one of four things:
1. Get even. They hurt the person back through gossip, manipulation, & reputation ruining.
2. Stuff it down, hidden deep inside, and ignore it. They pretend all is well.
3. Become a doormat and excuse it because they don’t like conflict.
4. Lash out at the other person due to deep hurts and ongoing frustrations.
If we are all honest, we probably have done a few of these things in our lifetime.
But…there is a better way.
We must first consider some important information when going through times of conflict:
- What if we are hurting ourselves, or our own families, in the midst of the conflicts we face?
- What if we are contributing to hurting many others in the crossfire of our disagreements…potentially for generations?
- What if people take up offenses for loved ones, leading to serious discord that keeps on going…and going…and going. At the very least, we’ve all heard mother-in-law jokes…and at the very worst, we’ve all seen political issues and wars in the world that are violently ongoing.
- What if we harm our own character, reputation, or spiritual witness, or that of our family’s, or that of another person?
Think about it…every conflict we are in doesn’t just affect us.
Each and every conflict on earth was started with a little spark that grew into a monumental fire.
How do we personally tend to our “little sparks” before great damage is done?
It is important to understand the truth that we’ve all experienced conflict due to others, as well as of our own making:
1. We’ve all been 100% innocent and on the receiving end of a combative person/situation/issue
2. We’ve all dished out our share of mistreatment or misinformation onto others
Majority of the time, we are right in the middle of these two extremes…doing both dishing and receiving.
Ok, so about that little spark that’s headed towards becoming a wildfire of destruction…
When going through conflict, it can zap us in many ways. The deeper the conflict, and the longer it lasts, the more we probably are tempted to question God why we are having to go through it.
Conflict. is. painful.
Why is conflict so prevalent?
Ultimately, conflict surfaces because it is one of the enemy’s strongest ways of keeping us from achieving what God wants for us and what God truly wants for those around us. Conflict continually keeps hurts and problems stirred up…and sucks up all our energy…which prevents us from FULLY achieving God’s Will and His best for our lives.
If you are going through conflict, the best thing to do is for both parties to self reflect and ask a few questions of themselves:
1. Did I do anything to wrong the person I’m having issues with?
2. Has there been an offense in the past that I haven’t made right? (maybe they’re reacting to a past hurt)
3. How have I contributed to this problem?
4. Have I gossiped or lied about them…or embellished the facts?
5. Have I been spiteful, hateful, unreasonable, or vindictive?
6. Have I tried to discredit them or relayed damaging info or “facts” about them to others, casting them in a bad light, or tried to get others on my side?
7. Is this a sin cycle passed down or learned from my parents (problems with authority figures, in-law issues, conflict stemming from divorce/death, rejecting others, anger, bitterness, “getting even”, rebellion, etc)?
8. Have I had a spirit of “competition” or jealousy where I’m trying to “win” or win my own way, “one up” someone, or gain favor at another person’s expense? (Example: siblings or daughter-in-laws & mother-in-laws)
9. Have I been prideful, unwilling to budge, or unwilling to do my part?
10. Have I taken up an offense for a loved one, without considering the other person’s feelings or their side of the story?
As you read these 10 questions, did you truly self reflect?
If not, take a moment to value and rid yourself of any pride, bitterness, or hurt you are harboring in your heart…free yourself…and go back and re-read the 10 questions of self reflection (focusing on each bolded ‘I‘)…and TRULY self reflect, as you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Then you will be able to free yourself up to make a commitment to do what is honorable in the conflict you are in as much as you are truly able to.
Remember: you’re not only doing this for them…because, let’s face it, if left to us, we aren’t going to be in the mood to self reflect or do a kind favor to anyone who has been hurtful or offensive. We need to remember that we are also choosing to do this to honor God, and for our own peace, sanity, and joy, as well as those around us who are deeply affected by the conflict. Most conflicts affect everyone close to us…they’re usually never just a “2 person” ordeal.
Times of conflict are extremely painful…but they can also be excellent opportunities for personal growth.
Consider the incredible invaluable opportunity you have right in front of you to develop character & humility in your own life to become a stronger, kinder, more richly developed person.
Each person needs to ask their self:
1. What have I personally done to make the situation right?
2. Have I gone to the person to make amends?
3. Have I done, or am I willing to do, the “right thing” as much as is in my power to do so?
4. Have I truly done an inventory of the hurtful or hate-filled words I have spoken (to them, about them, and to others) as well as the hurtful things I have done to them?
5. Have I genuinely considered what I have cost them (relationally, spiritually, reputation, emotionally, monetarily/financially, time-wise, wasted special occasions, etc)
6. Have I been willing to be a peacemaker and actively taken the steps to extend forgiveness, mercy, and grace?
7. Have I put myself in “their shoes” to see how they feel…or how this has affected them?
8. Have I offered a sincere apology or offered to actively make my “wrongs” right? (a hurt or offended person is hard to win over. An apology…and sometimes restitution…is vital. Humbling but it is a must-do)
9. Have I given the person the “benefit of the doubt” and/or tried to understand their intentions behind their actions? (sometimes, not everything is personal)
And most importantly…
10. Have I genuinely prayed about the situation and asked God what to do...am I truly willing to obey God, regardless of how I feel or what I ultimately want?
We live in a broken world, but that doesn’t necessarily give us a “free pass” to go around behaving like broken people. We need to hold ourselves accountable for every word, action, and deed…because we will eventually have to give an account of these to God. Speaking of God, we have a Helper to make us whole, Who wants to make our offender whole, and to bring healing to any situation…if we want His help. So, if we want God’s help, it is vital to go to Him and His Word for lasting answers.
Although conflict can be incredible uncomfortable to go through, sometimes, conflict can be a catalyst to bring healing into your life, or an offensive person’s life. Sometimes, God wants us to be that person…helping the very person who hurt our heart. It’s EXACTLY what Christ did…and still does…for us.
Compassion, empathy, and understanding pave the way…they all are key components to begin the healing that is needed.
Make the decision to start being the compassion & understanding to others TODAY that YOU wish to receive TOMORROW.
Most conflict issues can be resolved when one person stands up, decides to show good character, and becomes the bigger person to make amends.
We are all in this together.
Everybody in the world has been deeply hurt…and everybody in the world has deeply hurt others.
How cool would it be if we all chose to live life on the higher road, making the decision to love God and love others starting right now?
Many problematic conflicts could be completely resolved if we could master in ourselves those 2 important…life-changing…decisions.
Starting today, let’s begin to un-complicate life and choose to pursue healing, spiritual strength, emotional health, kindness, compassion, and genuine love.
It will most likely take time, and getting used to, but it can be worth it!
Conflict resolution comes to life when both parties agree to:
1. Truly love God
2. Genuinely love others
Because, ultimately, love can truly cover over a multitude of hurts and sin.
Yes, 10+10 can equal 2…when the 2 parties in a conflict ask themselves those important 20 questions to come to a WHOLE resolution.
Does this still seem impossible? My next post will be all about how to practically accomplish conflict resolution when you don’t want to through developing character. Stay tuned!
Lookup these verses on www.bible.com: 1 Peter 4:8, Ephesians 4:32, James 1:12, Matthew 5:9, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:2-3, James 3:18, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 5:14-17, Matthew 6:14, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 14:12
God has been showing me some pretty cool stuff this week…stuff I definitely will be putting into practice myself! Looking forward to writing more about this! 🙂