Conflict is something that most of us prefer to avoid, and when it does happen, we want to be reconciled if that person is important to us. So, why do we find it hard sometimes to get past the conflict, seek reconciliation, and experience a restored relationship?
This was a hard lesson for me the other night. I disrespected my husband in front of others. When he confronted me about it, my mind went on overdrive, compiling a long list of reasons why he misunderstood my words and actions. In short, I was defensive. But, it wasn’t long before I switched gears and reacted on the offensive. When we are hurt, our natural reaction is to hurt back. What should you do when conflict arises?
Bitterness is a scary thing. Someone who is bitter is prideful, resentful, unapproachable, and unwilling to resolve disagreements with others. Often the person who is bitter is unaware he/she is bitter. Beware of allowing bitterness to linger. It will eventually set up residence in your heart. And soon, the bitterness will become so apparent to others through your words and actions until it completely characterizes you.
REDEEM THE TIME
Whether we are the offender or the offended, time will not heal the hurt unless you have done everything to make peace. When we experience a conflict, sometimes we just need space and room to breathe and calm our hearts. I get that. But, if we are using that time to simmer and stew, eventually we will boil over. If you need some space because you can’t calmly resolve the disagreement, use that time to pray and seek God’s word. Even God wants us to be reconciled first before coming to Him in worship. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). Think of it this way … the longer you take to be reconciled, the longer you will have to keep away from worshipping God.
RESPOND IN HUMILITY
If we sinned, we sinned. No matter which angle we look at it or how we try to justify our actions, if we are the cause of the conflict, let’s be humble and ask for forgiveness. This is such a huge mountain to scale, but once you do it, you’ll be glad it’s behind you. Don’t let your pride get in the way.
If the person has wronged you, ask God to help you see if you may have unintentionally provoked the situation. Or, ask The Lord to give you a heart of love and compassion for the other person. Maybe there are other circumstances you are unaware of that caused that person to offend you. Consider Jesus Christ, who is our example, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). If you are wholeheartedly seeking The Lord, I have no doubt He will grant you peace, even if the other person is unwilling to be reconciled.
Now, back to my story …
After sitting in the chair for quite some time, battling in my mind about what I should do about the argument with my husband (you know … thoughts like, “Why doesn’t he apologize first?” or “I didn’t really do anything wrong”), I finally took a deep breath, got up from the chair, and asked him for forgiveness. And, he also humbly acknowledged and apologized for where he failed in this whole matter.
Conflict is bitter. But, reconciliation is definitely sweet!