I’m amazed how in a span of 2 seconds, a moment can turn from fun and laughter to anger and hurt. How quickly I can go from thinking positive and loving thoughts to ones I am shamed to own. Seems the harder I attempt to avoid conflict, the harder it pursues me.
He said something. I said something. One of us took it the wrong way, one of us didn’t like the tone we used, one of us became defensive, the other followed the defense strategy. Something silly turned into something beyond ridiculous. Hurtful words were exchanged followed by feelings the enemy wants to become all too familiar.
Then the AHA moment.
When we fight, we are not enemies. He is not my enemy. I am not his enemy. When we disagree or misunderstand each other or whatever has happened that leads us down the path to conflict, we are not fighting against each other. We are for each other. There is an enemy that fights against us and he loves when we get off-course and look at each other as the enemy.
I spoke those words to my husband then sat in silence. And he reached over, grabbed my hand, and said “I don’t want to fight.” Immediately the tension dissolved. It was like the moment you are driving through dense fog, straining to see the road, then suddenly the fog is gone, everything is clear.
Of course we don’t want to fight. Conflict doesn’t have to result in fighting and hurting the ones we love. A simple shift in our perspective can change everything. And save a relationship.
If I could have my way, my days would be filled with complete peace, free of any conflicts or dramas. I enjoy conflict-free relationships so much, I naturally avoid any that seem to be magnets for drama or misunderstandings. I’m not proud to admit this as I know this is not how God intends to grow me in holiness. There are parts of me that can’t be refined when they aren’t put to the test. Conflict is certainly a refining fire.
At the root of many of our conflicts is a desire to get our own way. We are naturally very selfish and think from our own perspective. We struggle to think from another person’s perspective. This is human nature. We become defensive and want them to understand us so much we fail to understand them.
When my husband grabbed my hand and told me he didn’t want to fight me, the hard wall I was erecting around my heart crumbled. I saw him immediately for the person he is to me. My husband, who loves me wholly. He wasn’t my enemy. Because he loves me, he is for me. How easy it is to lose sight of this in the heat of the battle. We forget the ones we love are not our enemies.
I have 2 key verses that come to mind when the heat turns up.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
I don’t want to be a fool, who is provoked easily. I want to be a woman of knowledge and understanding. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, this is impossible for me to attain.
There is a question we can ask ourselves when we feel conflict arising, and we begin to fight. Am I fighting to win or am I fighting to understand? How we answer that question will change the course of the discussion. When we are trying to understand, we are open-minded, we are understanding, we are empathetic, and we remember this is a person we love very much. When we fight to win, our pride blinds us, we lash out, we are easily provoked, and we will say things that can never be taken back.
There is something else we forget in conflict. God created each of us uniquely distinct from each other. Therefore, we will not always agree on everything. And this is o.k. It doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t love us just because they don’t agree with us. It doesn’t mean we think less of each other. We simply disagree. We tend to put up our defenses when someone doesn’t agree with us. Pride loves that because we begin to dig our heels in convinced we can convince them we are right.
Often, we are very wrong. In conflict, there can easily be 2 right sides that simply see things differently. We don’t have to fight to win, we just need to fight to understand. And love.
During a difficult time with one of my sons, I wrote about realizing who I was fighting against when I fought with my son. I also wrote a letter to my boys about handling their bickering. Both of these posts, I turn back to myself and how I handle the ones I love in my life.
Lord, teach me to fight to understand when I’m in conflict. Put to death the pride in my heart that fights to win and be right. Give me wisdom and knowledge so I can be a woman of understanding who is even-tempered and not easily provoked in my spirit to anger. Above all things, let me put on love for it covers a multitude of sins.
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