Facing Conflict

Confrontation is something I think we all try to avoid. Sometimes it’s over petty stuff: a snotty cashier, a customer service rep who just won’t refund that extra charge, etc. But sometimes it’s over the big stuff: an unfair criticism from a boss, a cruel comment from a spouse... We get hurt, so we hide that feeling inside. We get snippy and don’t deal with the fact that we feel unnoticed. This happens because we are busy, tired, and let’s face it--simply human.

When I was in my twenties, I had no trouble addressing misconceptions, hurt feelings, or injustices on someone else’s behalf. However, that impulse often found me hurting others by speaking too quickly or making brash decisions. A few years later, I changed course; I bottled confrontation-worthy feelings inside because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Neither of these was the best approach.

Now that I am hitting my forties, I am learning that conflict and confrontation are not something we need to avoid, but rather something that should require careful and prayerful consideration. We are relational beings meant to live in communion with each other, and yet we are also flawed beings who will inevitably disrupt that communion. It’s a fact: we are going to get hurt or hurt others. So how do we handle this reality?

The Gospel writer Matthew gives us some insight:

Matthew 18:15-17 ESV

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

I truly believe that God wants us to be real with the people in our life.

I recently faced an issue of miscommunication with two close friends. Things were said that I certainly didn’t want to hear. I was really hurt. I felt betrayed and misunderstood. But I also knew that what was shared was not meant to hurt me but to help me grow in an area I needed to: having too much on my plate.  A close mentor reminded me not to let Satan have a foothold in this area. So after a few tough conversations and a lot of prayer, we all learned something and grew closer from it. We have a much deeper understanding of each others’ circumstances and a fuller sense of one another.

I don’t know how you handle conflict when it arises or if you’re facing something right now that is nagging at you. I pray that as you go about your life, you remember that the people you love are worth it. Be willing to have hard conversations. Be willing to pray about when and how those conversations should take place. Remember that we don’t have to do any of this in our own strength. God goes before us and wants restoration. He is the Prince of Peace.

Let’s seek that peace, even when it seems impossible.