By Kelly Carr
To say I dislike conflict is an understatement. I despise politics because of how venomous the two big parties act toward one another. If I see an argument about any topic starting to brew on Facebook, I will run the other way. Needless to say, I was never on a debate team in school. I even get stressed about picking a place to eat after church because someone in the group is bound to be upset, whatever place we choose.
I am often hyper-aware of people’s reactions to things, and I want everyone to get along and be happy. I can sense when others are disappointed. Sure, I understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. But I do wish it would happen. It would make me feel a lot less stressed.
To Speak or Not to Speak
Once I saw two friends in a conflict. Over the course of a year, both had made decisions that hurt the other. Both were willing to point out their own hurts. But neither was willing to take full responsibility for their own negative actions and words that had scarred the other. They tried sweeping things under the rug, but the relationship was never the same. These two friends, once extremely close, drifted apart.
I have another friend who told me about a conflict at work. This friend and a coworker did not see eye-to-eye. After some months of frustration, my friend finally went and spoke to the coworker, saying, “I know you don’t like me for some reason. Let’s figure this out.”
I was floored. In my passive-aggressive, nonconfrontational manner, I would have simply avoided the coworker at all costs and fumed silently at the person’s animosity. But not my friend. Although it took courage and discomfort, approaching the conflict head-on was a step in the right direction. Now the working relationship between the two is slowly improving.
Confronting with Love
Reflecting on these two opposing stories, I reluctantly recognize that confrontation and difficult discussions need to occur at times to bring about growth. It can, and should, be done in love. (Just don’t ask me to do it, OK?)
As awkward as it can be, we may need to speak up in order to protect someone else from being hurt. Those in the wrong may not even realize the extent of pain they are causing. Obviously we should pray for people and place the entire scenario in God’s hands before we utter a word. And when we feel God’s Spirit guiding us to say or do something, then we should put aside our fears and trust that he will speak and act through us. When we approach a situation out of a desire to bring peace, we will be focused on a godly outcome.
In a similar manner, we would want someone to let us know if we are being jerks and don’t realize it. True? So as rough as that conversation may go, we should be open to listening to a trusted friend who desires to help make us better people.
I am praying that God gives me the courage to act the next time he prompts me speak up in love.