Conflicts: Who needs them?

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Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or complete strangers, we all face conflict sometimes—or quite often—in our lives. If you’re like me, you hate conflict.

So, what do we do? Do we confront the situation, or do we avoid it and hope it goes away? Sometimes we have no choice in the matter. Sometimes we are forced to confront it or it confronts us, and sometimes it goes away without our help.

The problem comes when we are either forced to face the situation or we avoid it, and it takes hold of us like an angry bulldog. We go to bed thinking about it, wake up thinking about it, and think about it until it consumes us. It affects our health, our daily activities, and our family. In that case, we can get our lives back when we deal with the matter until the problem is resolved.

So how do we do this? How do we regain a right relationship with family members or friends who refuse to even try to work out problems? As Christians it’s our responsibility to be peacemakers in our relationships, but people are people, and we can’t always make peace. Romans 12:18 says we are to live in peace with others as much as possible, so we know making peace isn’t always possible. However, we have to try, and if it isn’t possible, we have to forgive, let it go, and get on with our lives.

I’m convinced that the majority of conflict is caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding, and that happens most of the time because we don’t listen to each other. Listening is more than just hearing. We have to listen with our hearts as well as with our ears. When we hear something that upsets us, we need to ask for clarification: “I understand this is what you said. Is that right?” or something along those lines.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.    ~Ronald Reagan

Another main reason for conflict is just plain selfishness. We want what we want when we want it and the way we want it. It’s all about me. So much hurt is done in our world because of this monstrous sin, and selfish people are hard to deal with or make peace with. They don’t really see themselves as selfish at all, so to them, the problem lies with others.

Sometimes the best way to deal with that kind of person is to just give them and the problem to God, but only AFTER we have done everything in our power to bring reconciliation to the situation. “God, you talk to them, because I can’t. They are yours, not mine, and I don’t know what else to do.” Then walk away and don’t fret about them. I’ve had to do this before, and it really does work. It relieves you of any responsibility for the conflict, but you have to forgive them—truly forgive—and stop allowing them to control or consume your life.

Other causes may be guilt or conviction. Sometimes those who live a different lifestyle are not comfortable around us. We as Christians should never make a person feel uncomfortable because they do not believe as we do or share the same lifestyle.

But when a person knows we are Christian and they are not, often they are uncomfortable being around us. A person who claims to be a Christian and is not living like a Christian may feel conviction when they are around a person who actually lives as a Christian. Also, when a person has knowingly wronged someone, they may feel guilty being around the person they wronged.

Conflict is drama, and how people deal with drama shows you the kind of people they are.    ~Stephen Moyer

Reconciliation in a torn relationship or forgiveness when reconciliation isn’t possible is essential for us to live in peace with ourselves. When we face conflict, we must move to gently restore the relationship. We have to resist the temptation to become judgmental or proud, holding on to our ‘right’ to be offended. A strong person will be humble and approach the situation with love. The goal is to win the person and be reconciled, not to be right or to claim assumed rights.

At times, we can overlook a minor situation, but some things cannot be ignored. When we approach a conflict we have to think about the manner in which we approach it.  Will my actions dishonor God? Will they damage the relationship? Will they cause more division? Will they hurt the offender or someone else? The goal of our actions must be to bring peace and offer mercy. We have to approach them with humiliation and gentleness with a goal to be reconciled.

Attempted reconciliation must be done face to face, or at least on the phone, NOT on social media. We have to be forthright and assertive while being supportive and forgiving. Jesus teaches us to prefer one another, and even though that is often hard to do, it is required of Christians.

As long as we have relationships, we will have conflict. We can’t control what other people think or do, but we can control what we think and do. Thank goodness we are not responsible for others, only for ourselves, and while we don’t always have to live with others, we do have to live with ourselves. Go in peace, and God bless.

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