Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9
Nobody likes confrontation. Nobody.
We all struggle with having conflict or clashing disagreements with one another. It can be challenging to find a way to resolve our opposing differences to a level where there can be peace and harmony again. However, the Bible admonishes us to strive for peace repeatedly.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. – Matthew 18:15
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
God desires unity and reconciliation among us. He wants us to rise above the lowly temptation to cast aside one another when we find ourselves in disagreement. He provokes us to resist the temptation that would cause us to lean into strife and division, discarding the peace and fulfillment that comes from us being in the right relationship with one another.
Dealing with confrontation is rough.
Resisting allowing for strife and conflict to persist isn’t easy.
Dying to the desire to be “right” and surrendering your ego is hard.
I know because, like you, I have been tested and tried in all of the above, too.
I know what it’s like not to want to do the work to repair a relationship.
I know what it’s like not to want to let go and forgive an offense when God is telling you you need to.
I know what it’s like to be tempted to feed gossip.
I know what it’s like to stubbornly hold on to the “rightness” of everything that happened and feel justified from your perspective.
I also have learned how to surrender all of that, push the carnality to the side, and do that hard thing that God instructs us to do in these situations, which is to forgive, love, and pursue peace with others.
If you are alive and breathing on planet earth, you will, at some point, experience conflict. It is almost guaranteed in some form or fashion. However, how you will respond and seek to solve those issues will be entirely up to you. I should caution you that how you handle resolving conflict, what you choose to practice in this area, will become apart of your character.
Here are a few quotes about conflict:
“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” – Max Lucado
“The goal of resolving conflict is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching an understanding and letting go of our need to be right.” – Unknown
“It’s more rewarding to resolve conflict than to dissolve a relationship.” – Josh McDowell
Perhaps you are going through a trying time right now with someone. Maybe you and a friend have had a falling out due to something that has happened. Or, perhaps you and a spouse are not seeing eye to eye, and you are avoiding talking it out with them. Maybe it’s been years that you have spoken to that person, but there is something still bothering you and lingering over you about something that was said or done.
It can be very tempting to diminish how you feel and pretend to be nonchalant about the situation. However, in my experiences, I’ve come to realize that whatever we do not confront, usually persist. It eventually finds a breaking point.
To be clear, there are times when holding our peace is true wisdom and necessary. However, there are moments in the relationships that we value and hold dearly where we need to find the voice of love, patience, and willingness to find understanding to salvage the beautiful gift of connection that God has given us with this person.
A few tips on how to resolve conflict God’s way:
1. Go into an awkward conversation with a willingness to say, “Please forgive me,” and to look for a solution.
Sometimes we go straight into defense mode thinking about the worst-case scenarios. I think it is normal for us to begin to rehearsal the history of events that have happened for that if, at any point, we need to “bring up something,” we have already formed our defense case against them. What if you lead with love and a desire for a resolution to whatever conflict or negative experience that has happened, the result of the conversation is going to be restored peace(even if just for your mind). It does not always guarantee a restored relationship, but it can bring about the closure on how to move forward.
2. Respect your headspace.
If you know that you have not slept for two days because you have been sick or had a deadline to meet, ask the person if you can schedule a time to have the conversation in a week. That way, you have time to pray and regroup. When it comes to conflict, one of the reasons things can go so ugly is that we often feel as though we already have a million other things bombarding us. Communicate your schedule, and validate the importance of this conversation to the other person. Then, make sure you keep the date and do not bail. Whatever we do not confront will persist, and it will usually result in an explosion.
3. Consider the other person’s soul and experience.
This has been a huge one for me to learn. I remember in one situation of conflict I experienced, I was asked to meet up with a girl who made it clear that she did not have a good taste in her mouth for me. I wrestled with meeting up because, for me, I felt that there was nothing to talk about. Our last dialogue happened years ago. I had already moved on from the situation and friendship.
However, when I was approached with this meet up, I realized that even though I may have done the work to heal and move on, this person may not have. I could have dismissed this persons need to have this conversation, as them being petty or trying to stir up the pot, but the Holy Spirit reminded me that just because I have allowed for the hurt of situations and the outcome of them to be healed in my soul, does not mean that the other person has.
Sometimes, where it is wise and where you have the mental/emotional capacity to do so, sitting down with someone who may need to express themselves is important. Where you may be a little further in your process, respect where someone else may be at. Learning to be compassionate and empathetic to another persons journey of personal development is a beautiful thing. Wherever you have in your ability to play a role in someone else breakthrough, do it.
We'll touch more on this in point 5.
4. Wherever it is possible to make amends, do it.
There is nothing more freeing than to do good where there has been evil. To go back and triumph over a situation by releasing the Power of God’s might in a case where there has been hurt, anger, misunderstanding, and division is like bringing heaven into earth.
5. Stay humble.
In my own experiences with confrontation, I have been extremely humbled to find out how my actions or decisions affected others around me. I have not always; because it has usually been tough to bring things to the surface or to address issues, the things that I may have done that affected another person. Yet, I have been faced with more than a handful of my share of confrontational and conflicting moments that have helped me to learn what to do and what not to do. Sometimes, we can get so tunnel vision, investing our time efforts and energy into things, not realizing how our neglect of a relationship is causing someone to feel distant, or abandoned, or forgotten about. This is something I have noticed I tend to do myself, so I try to be more mindful to pay attention to when I’m getting tunnel vision or a lot better with communicating.
Unless we forgive others, how can God forgive us?
Opening up space for there to be a dialogue about any issues between you and another person can be extremely uncomfortable. It takes time to mature and develop emotional awareness, but I believe in learning how to face situations head-on and not run from difficulty or try to brush things under the rug.
One of the things my mom has often said whenever we have had our moments is that as long as we keep communicating, things will work itself out.
I also believe that we can learn to respect time for a relationship to breathe, especially after tension or a difficult season. If we put our relationships in the hands of the Father, He is so faithful to heal our hearts from anything that has happened and make them soft, tender, and pliable again.
When you are angry, or hurt, or feeling justified, do not ignore God’s invite to help you lay those things down. Consider the cross. Consider Jesus’ mercy He showed to you, who was deserving of everything He bore on His body, for you.
This walk with God and becoming Christlike is hard. It demands more of us than we ever thought. It requires us to daily choose to die to ourselves and pursue the Will of God. Despite how we feel, we must continue to go before the Lord in total honestly, complete surrender, and absolute humility to cry out, “Not my will, but Thy Will be done.”
Until next time,