I like resolution. I don’t like conflict but it’s always been really hard for me to let things go. When things change, it causes me to want to get down to the reason they’ve changed and work on getting them back to the way they used to be.
A few months ago, there was conflict in one of my relationships. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the only real way to make sure relationships don’t change is to find the problem, talk about it and fix it.
But, that doesn’t always work.
I picked up the phone and sent a text. It had already been several months of misunderstandings, obvious and deliberate distancing, and few words spoken. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize things weren’t like they’ve always been.
My text message said something like, “Hey! I think we need to talk about some things but we should do it in person. Are you up to it?”
I personally believe that important matters should be discussed face to face. Reading body language and tone of voice is crucial in communication.
Once we got together, words started flying from both of our mouths. Hair stood on the back of our necks like a cat crouching in a posture of defense. It wasn’t pretty.
By the end of the conversation, I felt terrible about myself. As the days went on I thought a lot about the words we spoke. We eventually calmed down during the conversation itself and made amends but something wasn’t right.
I could feel it. And as time went on, I realized nothing good came of it and we’ve only grown further apart since. Today, I’m going to share with you the reasons why.
What is Conflict?
Conflict is a disagreement or an argument. Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. It’s inevitable. Most people try to avoid it but doing so only compiles and leads to resentment.
God gives us a way to handle conflict in His word. Matt 5:23 says, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
The only way to reconcile is to talk it out and address the disagreements. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He also says in Matt 18:15, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”
Our responsibility is to resolve the conflict regardless of who offended who. Jesus is basically saying if there’s conflict then resolve it.
Why Is Conflict Unresolved?
We can only do what God has required of us in His word. But there are reasons conflict won’t get resolved.
First, you have to be honest. If you don’t get to the heart of the problem, you’re not really dealing with the issue. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
If we’re not honest, no matter how much it stings, we won’t resolve the conflict and that’s when bitterness will take root.
Second, be willing to listen. A lot of times, we speak to be heard but we don’t truly hear the other person because conflict causes us to want to defend ourselves. James 1:9 tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to wrath.
Third, find common ground. If you have a relationship with this person, there has to be things you agree on. Admit when you’re wrong and show you’re listening by nodding as they speak. This shows you really want to find resolution and you’re not just looking to be right.
Fourth, forgive. Col 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This isn’t always easy. Forgiving someone else is a choice, but if we want forgiveness, we have to extend it.
Conflict won’t be resolved unless we do these things. And all of these things are biblical. If you only do one of these but not the others, you’re not resolving the conflict. Each of these steps must be implemented to salvage the relationship.
The Consequences to Unresolved Conflict
Unresolved conflict leads to broken relationships. It’s as simple as that. So, my question to you is how important is your relationship? Is it worth sitting down and having hard conversations? It is worth admitting when you’re wrong, forgiving and listening to someone else?
If not, you’re relationship is doomed. Eventually, it will fade away and you’ll look back and wonder why. The reality though, is that we truly can tell when things start to change. It’s usually issues that compound over time and it’s up to us to make sure we bring the relationship back to common ground.
I can tell you that my relationship with the person I talked about at the beginning of this blog post isn’t the same. It’s changed drastically, but I saw it coming for more than a year. Conflict after conflict arose, and because we didn’t have honest conversations we never got to the heart of the problem.
Don’t let that be you.
My challenge to you today is to read up on resolving conflict. I have a better idea … listen to my podcast for this week titled “Resolving conflict in relationships” on Her Faith Inspires. My special guest this week is Lisa Taylor and she provides a wealth of information on this topic.
Pray about any relationships that seem to be in conflict. Ask God for the wisdom and the love to have hard conversations and implement the instruction of His word to work it out. The wonderful things about God’s word is that it brings fruit to our lives when we apply it; especially in our relationships.
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