“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court. Lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put into prison.”
Conflict. From an uneasy peace to open war, conflict is a dissonance between two people. Something has happened that has disrupted the peace. And there is now a choice. We can ignore the elephant in the room. We can choose to not engage in the hard conversation that our lives are headed towards. We can choose to walk in and give our best reality TV impersonation, substituting loudness for integrity. We can be defensive. We can put our heads down and nod. We can pretend nothing is wrong and just keep on grinding it out until we are able to run away or it magically goes away. These are strategies I see all around me. In the workplace, among friends, between family members, I watch the inability to face conflict erode life.
I have a rule I live by when it comes to conflict. I turn into it. That is my strategy. I don’t look for it. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t relish a good fight. I am not one who tries to egg people on just to have a spirited debate. No, I am not speaking of mere talk. I speak of actual interpersonal conflict. I turn into it.
If peace is disrupted, I take notice. Even if it is not a full blown loss of relationship, I will still walk up to it and knock on its door. Someone gets mad at me on Facebook, I go up to them next week, shake their hand, and make the peace. I lose my cool over an email and throw out an unneeded jab, I drive 6 hours to shake their hand, apologize, and make it right. When I become aware of conflict between myself and another, I intentionally turn into it. Cause I want it resolved. I want the hurt to be apologized for, explained, or confronted, whatever the case may be.
And it’s awful. Man, do I not enjoy facing conflict. It’s hard to say real words. It’s hard to talk without immediately putting up walls of defense. It is not fun humbling myself in order to approach the unspoken divide. But it is the only way I know of to bring real reconciliation. I am not saying every time we face conflict peace will result. But I am saying it is the most successful strategy I know of. I am amazed at how often after the hard conversation there comes a stronger bond, a restoration, an understanding, a return to kindness.
Conflict is going to happen. And the best way I have found to deal with is to face it head on. To try and bring peace. To bear the burden and the stress, to initiate what isn’t being said, and to reap the reward for doing so. Face the conflict. Lay down your pride. Find the way forward if possible.