No one likes conflict. People may be good at instigating it, but I would argue that no reasonable person actually enjoys conflict. Big scale or small scale, discord between friends or whole countries, conflict takes a serious toll on our physical and mental well being. Even the slightest bit of conflict in my own life turns my stomach into knots and gets my heart beating a little quicker.
But conflict is an unavoidable part of life. It happens everyday whether it’s internal conflict or conflict between you and a parent, a friend, a sibling. We could go on pretending it’s not there, hoping to get by unscathed, but at the end of the day the restlessness creeps in and we know that something is not right.
I’ve had several hard conversations with people in the last 2 months and it’s stretched me in ways that I haven’t really enjoyed. Looking back on those conversations, I can say that I’m glad they happened and that they have grown me in ways I wouldn’t have grown otherwise but in the moment, they were straight uncomfortable. My impulse is to run and deny the problem, but I hear God nudge my heart and gently say “I know this is hard, but it needs to happen. I’ll be with you in it.”
Whether we have caused conflict or have been caught in the crossfire, conflict sheds light on our capacity for patience, compassion, and understanding. And more often than not, I know that my capacity is so humanly limited. I cannot have that hard conversation with someone without the help of the Holy Spirit. I am so useless without his help. I can speak eloquently and honestly and communicate everything I want to, but if I lack love that comes from God, I have nothing.
When conflict arises, pray. Pray for help. Ask God for a heart that is slow to anger and abounding in love. Pray that you could stand in the tension with compassion and patience, listening well and waiting on God to speak the right words through you. Fight for reconciliation where it’s possible and where it’s not, give it over to Jesus.
Ultimately, dealing with conflict does not boil down to a formula. It does require surrendering your agenda and walking boldly into uncomfortable situations, and relying on the wisdom and power of God to see you through.
- Vanessa // @vncoker