In the midst of conflict, it feels like He is calling us out to the waters of the great unknown, to the dangers of predators prowling around us, so fear strikes and we doubt. But if we look closely there in the deep we can find Him and our faith is made stronger when we yield to Him. Right there in the midst of the danger, if we surrender to Him we will discover His power, His presence, His protective arms and our unshakeable Faith.
If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit—your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except the enemy. Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just . . . fighting. For nothing.”
I love this quote from Priscilla Shirer especially where she says, “You get the impression that you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just…fighting. For nothing.” Many a time I have come to this place where I’m tired of being mad and I wonder what am I fighting for.
Well you’d think someone like me who gives workshops on conflict resolution would have this conflict thing–down packed, but I don’t. Many times what we know in our head doesn’t play out in our actions or words. The enemy works hard at making sure we don’t unlock the power He has given us through His word, in His presence, and in prayer and so we walk around blindfolded in the midst of the conflict–fighting for nothing.
Though I am still in process in this area, I want to share the lessons God has taught me:
1. There’s always another side. I know, I know this is an easy one but we don’t always remember this when we approach the conflict. Instead we approach it with boxing gloves, ready to defend ourselves. When I approach my situation with a humble attitude thinking there’s another side, I am more careful in my response to the other person. But instead many times I am in full mode: You wronged me. It hurts. How could you?
2. Our brain shuts down. When we approach the person like this–You wronged me. It hurts. How could you? We are in trouble. How do you think the person you’re
attacking I mean talking to, is going to respond–DEFENSIVELY. Our brain can not think things thoroughly when we are in fight or flight mode. So we’ve started the conversation on the wrong foot–you’re now both in flight or fight mode. Our brain literally has a hard time processing or for that matter hearing anything being said by the other person in this mode.
3. Sometimes what we say is more loaded then we think. Even if we think it’s tamed it doesn’t guarantee that it is. Ask someone who is not involved in the situation and you TRUST help you word what you’re trying to say. Don’t ask the friend who will tell you, you’re right and who gets riled up with you. Nor the friend who doesn’t have the courage to tell you, you’re wrong. Nor the friend who has also been wronged in a similar way because many times their perspective is clouded with their mess. In my recent situation, I thought through every word that I had said and I even prayed about it but it was still loaded because the words were oozing out from a heart that was still fully caught up in the emotion.
4. Never respond to a situation in the midst of your anger, hurt, sadness… Remember #2 your brain is not in the place nor is your heart, to decipher right from wrong or even to see the big picture in the situation. I know you may think this needs to be resolved RIGHT now because if it’s not you won’t be able to sleep. I assure you that you will have more sleepless nights if you do respond right now. Give yourself a day or two and seek God in prayer and ask him to give you a pure heart and if it takes longer for your heart to calm down, then wait. Wait for Him to give you the green light. Believe me you need the time to calm down.
5. We need someone to call us out. Rest assured that when they call us out we may get defensive and it may hurt. But please stop and think about what they are saying. Sometimes the person that calls you out may not have a relationship with you but don’t completely ignore what they are saying until you’ve had a chance to mull over it. With my recent conflict I had someone call me out that I didn’t really know but she was speaking truth. I thank God that she shared her perspective and that I didn’t ignore it.
- She reminded me that I am a professional.
- She reminded me that what I’m saying isn’t just effecting me but it will effect a whole community.
Guess what, I needed to hear that. I honestly thought through everything I said and even had prayed about it. I felt like it was tamed but when she said that to me I had to rethink everything. I went again before God and I realized that there were definitely some unkind things in what I said and there was still anger in my heart spewing out in my words.
6. Pray, but even in the midst of prayer beware. In prayer we gain strength and courage. Prayer is our weapon. Not your mouth. Not your hands. Not your cunning strategies. It’s prayer. So stop and spend a few hours, days, weeks soaking your mind and heart in prayer concerning your situation. Here’s another quote I love by P. Shirer,
We simply don’t have the luxury of playing nice with prayer. Not if we want things to change. Not if we want to be free—from whatever’s keeping us held down and held back. Not if we want our hearts whole and thriving and deep and grounded . . . different. Not if we want to reach our destinies and experience God’s promises. Not if we want our husbands and children living out what God has called them to do and be and become. Not if we want a fence of God’s protection around us. Not if we want to bear the unmistakable mark of His favor upon us. Not if we want the devil and his plans to go back to the hell where they came from.”
Beware… because even though you pray about it for hours, days, or weeks it doesn’t mean that we will do the right thing. We can start off right and then one thing the person says triggers our emotions. Or something comes to your mind about the situation and bang, next thing you know you’re not following His lead you’re following your heart. Stop yourself and take a moment to collect yourself and go before Him, we need Him to give us purity of heart. We need to ask Him to give us a pure heart as we move forward. And guess what a pure heart begins with–asking Him to show me where I’m wrong. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Prov. 16:7)”
7. Stop sharing the situation with others. Pick one or two people you trust and who will hold you accountable in not sharing it with others. Gossip is divisive–say “NO” when the temptation to gossip comes knocking at your the door of your hurt heart. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and gossip separates close friends” Proverbs 16:28 What comes out of our mouth as well as what we listen to, indicates our inner character–the place where our heart is at. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). We may be good at covering up the condition of our heart but the gossip that comes out of our mouth is a clear indication of where our heart is.
Gossip is wrong even though you’ve been wronged. I’ve also made this mistake of gossiping. But ugh, I hate gossip. I hate when others slander me and still I find myself doing it, even if it’s unintentionally. In a past situation, I still had anger and hurt in my heart and I had no business sharing anything with anyone with the condition my heart was in. Gossip puts our hearts on display–remember that.
Gossip puts the condition of our hearts on display.
When we gossip what we are going around showing others is how ugly and stinky our heart is. Even if people are going along with your gossip, I’d say most of the time they walk away thinking you’re not that nice either.
8. He will rescue me. You are not alone, He goes before us. Remember who is in control of all things, even this very situation that you’re dealing with–He holds all things together. You are His and He will vindicate you. Just remember that His rescue plan may look very different from what you had planned. So thankful for this promise, Psalm 34:17 “when the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of their troubles. The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” I just need to remember He doesn’t need my help with the vindication. Oh believe me, I’m usually ready to help Him and I even have plans just in case He’s too busy to come up with a strategy.
9. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. I can’t even begin to tell you how this will take you to absolutely new levels of peace both the act of forgiveness and asking for forgiveness. I could NOT have forgiven all those who have wronged me in life, without the help of Jesus. Humbly go before Him and ask Him to remove the veil that is blinding you from seeing things from His perspective.
10. Focus on the truth. I have found that in the midst of conflict we are fueled with emotions and we forget to focus on the facts and the truth. The enemies desire is to warp our perspective, so much so, that what was once a small issue is now blown out of proportion in our mind. He wants our reality to appear more desperate, much harsher than it truly is–once we believe the lies, we react not based on truth but from an overstimulated wounded heart. And the enemy has us exactly where he wanted us.
11. Know the root of the problem and choose righteousness. Choose to do the right thing.
Hear that again: Flesh and blood, skin and bones—those aren’t the places where your real struggles lie. The identity of your real enemy, once the Bible has weighed in, is clear as day. It’s him. It’s all him. It’s always been him. But in the rough-and-tumble of life’s exhausting pace, we can quickly lose touch with a passage like Ephesians 6. Even in knowing the truth, we can lose sight of where these attacks are originating from . . . from back there, behind the curtain. And by failing to take notice and remember, it’s not hard then to lose our cool, our temper, and most of our self-control before we ever find our way back to ultimate reality.” ~P. Shirer
12. Your conflict and how you handle it doesn’t just effect you. Conflict effects your family. Your kids are watching, they may not say anything but they are listening and watching. It effects your community and most importantly it can makes our God look bad when we don’t do it effectively. In my recent situation, I didn’t think through how my response to the conflict at hand would effect others in my community but when this person called me out it opened my eyes to see the bigger picture.
Then there are the times we DO want the whole world to know about our situation and we invite more disgruntled people to sit around with us and be mad together. I’ve done this and let me tell you, when I walk away I don’t feel better my heart only feels yuckier. Just something to stop and think about, actually stop and ask God for perspective and forgiveness.
I have made ALL of the mistakes I shared above as I have encountered my share of conflict, so I share them with you in hopes that they help you. So that I can go back and be reminded of my mistakes so I won’t do them again. In hopes that He will bring them to mind when we are in the midst of conflict.
If you have found yourself making these same mistakes I have, I want to remind you me there is absolutely NOTHING to far gone that He can’t resurrect. Remember that my friend, nothing too far gone. Not you, not your situation, not your heart, not…. Call on Him. He wants you to invite Him into the knee deep mess you’ve created but more then that He wants to purify your heart so you can see the mess from His eyes.