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Let's Have a Conflict!

I used to hate conflict. I'd avoid it. Or I'd placate the other person. Then everything could be happy again, right? Wrong.

Once I learned the definition of conflict, it changed everything. Conflict is ALWAYS about an issue. And since it's about an issue, then both sides can come to an understanding or agreement. If it's not about an issue, then it's not conflict. It's abuse, disrespect, or mocking.

Here are examples of why I was scared to speak up in a former relationship:

1. If I got upset about something, he wouldn't work to solve the problem. He'd get angrier. At me. I wasn't safe to express hurt or disappointment because it would lead to more hurt or disappointment.

2. If I wanted to discuss an issue, he would "spiderweb." My issue would be the beginning of a conversation, then he would go off on a tangent then another tangent, until my thoughts were so tangled up that I couldn't remember what the original issue was, and I'd be confused to the point of letting it go or even apologizing for being so wrong.

3. If I was bothered, he'd make fun of me or my problem until I was laughing too. Because he WAS pretty funny. I'd feel silly for bringing up the issue in the first place. But my heart would be sad.

Now that I'm in a healthy relationship, I still hate to be wrong, and I still wish everything was always happy, but I remind myself that in order to grow, we have to have conflict. We have to disagree on things because we have different perspectives and backgrounds and goals. If we were the same, then one of us wouldn't be necessary. So we work together to come up with a solution that will honor each other and meet both our needs in the future. It's a beautiful thing.

This being true, then it's also important that we have conflict with God from time to time. If we never mess up or if we think God always agrees with us, then we probably aren't hearing Him correctly. As we're human and not God, there are going to be times when we want to do things that God doesn't want us to do or times we don't want to do things that God wants us to do. Giving up what we want is hard. But God isn't going to get angrier at us or spiderweb around the issue or make fun of us. He's going to wait patiently for us to work with him to find a solution that honors us both.

I don't enjoy being in conflict with God. Sometimes I let Him work in me and other times I have to find out the hard way that He was right. Either way, I needed this conflict to grow.

That being said, I think a lot of the arguments in our society are not real conflict. They are anger and diversion and arrogant jokes. They are trying to hurt or discredit or confuse others. If we have issues, we need to work together to solve them. Issues can be solved, though honestly, not all issues are worth fighting over.

Even Jesus, being 100% right ALL THE TIME, said in the Message translation of Matthew 18, "So we don't upset them needlessly..." It wasn't about being right and proving the other person wrong. He was picking his battles. He was being respectful. We know Jesus was not afraid to offend. He didn't just post controversial blogs on Facebook, but he flipped tables in the synagogue. That's messy. That's the opposite of making everything happy. If he was okay with being right and not rubbing it in other people's faces, we should be like that too.

There are the sayings "I'd rather be right than happy" and "I'd rather be happy than right," but I would suggest that conflict isn't about either of those things. It's not about me. It's about US. How we can work together and learn from each other, Which is something that should be embraced, not ever hated.

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