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“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
Conflict. Ugh. Just the thought of conflict makes me uneasy. As a peacemaker, I hate friction in relationships. Despite my aversion to it; however, whether we like it or not, conflict is a part of life. As such, the question is really not if we will experience conflict in life, but rather, how we will respond when we find ourselves in its midst.
Over the years my husband (a wonderful man who I deeply love) and I have had our share of disagreements and arguments.
I have heard some people refer to such times as “opportunities for growth” and other sweet sayings, but can I just be real and say there are times my husband and I straight up argue? I’m guessing many of you can relate.
As I think back over some of the tiffs we have had, one specific squabble stands out to me from all the others. Why? Two reasons. First, this particular disagreement was among the most heated we have ever had. Second, it sticks out above the rest because of how ridiculous what we were arguing over was. Now that you are all curious what the spat was about, I suppose it is only fair to share.
So, a few years ago I asked my dear friend from childhood, an incredibly talented artist, to make a wooden sign for me with a Bible verse or faith inspired saying painted on it. Well, when I shared this brilliant idea with my husband we had a difference of opinion as to what the sign should say. So…in a not so God honoring way we argued about what Bible verse or saying should go on the sign…and the argument took place on the way to church no less! I mean really, you cannot make this stuff up! While the blowup is now more than laughable to us, at the time it was far from funny.
So what do we do when we find ourselves in conflict? How do we handle conflict in a God honoring way?
While I still struggle to get this right every time…and as quickly as I should, I would like to share with you a way of handling conflict that has greatly helped me personally. While it may be a bit simplistic for some situations, I believe in most cases it is at least a good place to start.
As many of you may readily suggest, Matthew 18:15-20 provides the framework for directly addressing someone who has offended us. While this is absolutely the approach we are to take, I would suggest there is a Biblical step that is crucial we take before confronting someone who wronged us.
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
You see, when we find ourselves in conflict, at least if you are like me, it is difficult to see the role we may have in it. We can let our feelings and emotions cloud the lens through which we view the situation.
While completing my master’s in leadership, I was required to take a class on conflict resolution. I found it fascinating when my professor made the statement, “Conflict most often occurs when one or both parties makes an assumption.” How true is that?! We assume the other person’s motives, thoughts, or feelings. We assume ill intent or the worst from another. Assumptions are often the root of conflict. As such, we need to take a step back and allow God to show us our part in the situation and to reveal to us any assumptions we have made.
On many occasions praying this passage of Scripture has put my heart in the right position to receive God revealing my own part in the matter. I have been able to then take responsibility for my words or actions, ask for forgiveness, and the conflict is over.
While situations are not always this cut and dry, when in conflict, I would encourage you to sincerely pray this passage for yourself, and then pray for the other party involved before addressing the issue.
While this may seem pretty simple, when we invite God into our trials, there is no limit to how He can work.
Going back to my disagreement with my husband over the sign, after resolving the conflict, we decided on “love God, love others” based on Mark 12:30-31. Now, every time I walk by the sign, which is my most favorite wall hanging of all, I am reminded to do just that – even in the midst of conflict.
Are you involved in conflict today? What is it? How could asking God to open your heart to your role in the situation and allowing Him to work in your life as well as the life of the other person(s) involved help resolve the discord?
If God speaks to your heart today, be willing to humble yourself and seek or give forgiveness.
Let us purpose to honor God at all times – even when we find ourselves in conflict – especially when driving to church!