Conflict, according to Merriam Webster has a two-part definition: a conflict of principles involving divergent ideas, opposed, and in the verb tense, to contend in warfare.
From personal experience, I was afraid of conflict because I often wondered, “does the squeaky wheel get the grease”? This old adage reminds me of generations past and the assumption you have to speak up for yourself (maybe even rage)or you will be squashed.
Watching our dog navigate the animal world of our two cats shows the difference between assertion and aggression. Barking and hissing, or using a bite and slashing with claws are their skills of conflict resolution. I added the photograph as a visual for the topic of conflict :).
In human terms, we may have to pause before we throw out words that we can’t take back. Words can hurt more than punches. Words seem to find a way into the deep crevices of our minds. They can fester into pus that scars our self-concept or another’s for a lifetime.
Yes, there are times we need to be held accountable for our actions. However, a soft gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1 has been a gem to me. I have it posted on my refrigerator. Can you guess why it is in this location?
Proverbs 15: 1 - 5 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. 3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. 4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. 5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
Hangry and tired people hurl words without thinking. Can you relate? Grrrrr. Words that can bring regret, pain, loss, and permanent damage to relationships are the way the enemy devours the good people from our lives. That is the enemy’s plan to destroy our healthy relationships!
Jesus is our Shepherd, the gate for His sheep. We must learn to listen to His voice and wisdom not the impulse and emotions of the enemy who wants to rob us of good things.
John 10: 7- 9 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Action steps to healthy conflict resolution:
1. Deep breathe, slow down impulse reactions.
2. Post one of the scripture verses in Proverbs 15 ahead of time in places where you are triggered.
3. It is Spiritual warfare when the battle is on. It isn’t about flesh and blood but the enemy trying to destroy our relationships.
Ephesians 6:10-12 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
4. Realize we all need a reboot, we sin, we need a Savior to help us change unhealthy patterns.
5. Go to Jesus, talk to Him, ask for insight into your reaction.
6. There are times the other party needs to be laid at the cross of Jesus. What does that mean? Let go and let God!
You may need to step back from another for a while and almost detox from the conflict. Or even leave the dysfunctional relationship. The One (God) who created you knows all about you. He will be a safe place to regroup.
Self-care means putting your needs to refresh ahead of people-pleasing. Rest with Jesus!
The other party without your intervention may actually get a God revelation and change reactions. Even if that doesn’t occur, your time with Jesus will refresh.
Seek to learn from each experience. Let your mind be renewed.
Romans 12: 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Conflict can bring new revelations, they provide us with the opportunity to see our flaws and work to change them. We can’t do this on our own we are too self-absorbed.
Don’t fear conflict seek to want a better relationship. If the Lord is asked into your communication He will give the best advice. Choosing God’s best and believing He loves and wants to give a good life can bring joy and a healthy future.