This past summer I married my high school sweetheart. We dated for right around 7 years and in July of this past year we finally sealed the deal in the presence of those that we love the most in our lives. It was an amazing day that marked the beginning of our forever. After galivanting through the mystical land of an all inclusive honeymoon, where the coffee, food, and entertainment were as endless as our desires for more, we descended from the ‘honeymoon high’ right into the most difficult season of life that either of us have had ever had to face.
Now, full disclosure, the difficulties of this season have very much been outside forces driving us together and not something between us driving us apart. But nonetheless, within this year we have had to face challenges and valleys in our lives that have created conflict within us and taught us this underlying principle: conflict is always an opportunity.
Through my walk with God I have had the pleasure of investing in hundreds of individuals through speaking and discipleship. If there is one thing that I can say I’ve found that people universally HATE with a passion, it is conflict. We all handle conflict differently. Maybe you are a runner, maybe you escalate, maybe you divert and change the subject all together while avoiding eye contact at all costs. We all have different ways of handling, or should I say avoiding, conflict. But our disdain for the inevitable has done us a disservice.
I'm a pretty blunt guy. I tell it like it is and do my best to speak truth into the lives of those around me. On the grace and truth continuum I fall embarrassingly far on the truth side (I’m working on it.) Because of this, I’ve heard the phrase in my life many times, “I wish I wasn’t scared of conflict like you Quinn.”
Truth be told I hate conflict. Honestly, I am terrified of it. And I hate it so much that I try to get rid of it as soon as possible. The disconnect that I’ve continually seen though is that many claim to “hate” conflict, but never step into actually resolving it. Showing that you don’t hate conflict at all. In fact, quite the opposite, you hate conflict resolution. You love conflict, and I know that because your actions tell me so. That’s why you’ve chosen to wallow in it. You steep in the depths of your pity party by letting the fear of discomfort be trumped by the freedom of broken chains.
Now you may be saying, “Okay, well then how do I even go about resolving conflict?” I am glad you asked. I love when you ask questions The Bible answers for us. Let this serve as your road map.
1. Can you overlook the offense?
Proverbs 19:11 tells us that it is to our glory to overlook an offense. So the first step is to evaluate whether or not the conflict can be overlooked. How do you know if you can overlook it? Easy, you’ve already forgotten about it. It doesn’t keep coming back up in thought and conversation - it's in the past and you’ve moved on. So how do you know if you should step into resolution? Here is a working list that is by no means comprehensive but may be helpful:
- You’ve had hypothetical conversations with yourself about the issue while in the shower
- You’ve had multiple “mock debates” where you resolved the conflict alone in your car
- You’ve thought about "what you should have said"
- You’ve told the story, and when someone asked you “Did you really say that?” You replied with “No, but I wish I did.”
- You’ve gossiped about the situation and called it “venting” or “processing”
- You’ve said “I just need to extend more grace” and then carried on bathing in your anger and frustration
If you were convicted by any of the above, then it's likely that conflict resolution is needed.
2. Intentionally create time and space to have a face to face conversation
We all know that quality conversation happens face to face. And if you deem that this conversation is of high importance and will allow both parties to grow, it needs to happen within close proximity where tone, emotion, and vulnerability can be felt. Schedule a time and guard it.
3. Own your part
The easiest way to step into the conversation is to begin with ownership. Ownership dissipates tension and opens the door for vulnerability. Even if it seems like you have done nothing wrong, do a deep dive into your soul and search to own your sin. I’ve heard it said, “Own 100% of your 2%.” Own your part before you express your hurt. This isn't a blame game - it's about humbly seeking resolve. Do it with honesty, authenticity, and intentionality and watch as the door to constructive conversation opens.
4. Go to the person and confront where you were hurt
Matthew 18 is our road map here. Don’t go to your friends in an attempt to shame the person in front of others. Go to the person you are seeking resolve with. The issue at hand needs to be brought into the light, and one of the best ways to step into that conversation is by beginning with forgiveness. It allows you to begin on common ground and then confront the issue at hand. Use phrases like “I was hurt by… , “I want to know more about…”, “It hurt me when…”
It is extremely important here to speak freely without assigning any motive to the one that hurt you. Don’t make the issue bigger than it is. It is not your job to develop the opinions of others by gossiping or slandering their name. However, It is your job to step into the conflict as soon as possible (see Ephesians 4:26).
Often when I have taken these steps the person that I am approaching is completely unaware that they have even hurt me, and are quick to seek forgiveness and apologize. That is not to say that resolving conflict is easy, but if you call yourself a Christian, resolving conflict is not an option. We will be known by the way we resolve our conflict with love, grace, and truth.
It is actually of the upmost importance to our walk with God and our relationship with others. In Matthew 5:23-24 we are told that if we are coming to offer a gift at the alter and realize that there is unresolved conflict in our lives, we are to stop what we are doing and go resolve that conflict. Do you see what Jesus did there?
Jesus put conflict resolution before acts of worship. That is how important this is to Him, and that is why if you call yourself a Christian it is not a choice, but rather a call. Conflict in itself is an opportunity. The quicker you realize this the stronger your relationships will become. The strength of your relationships are not defined by the absence of conflict, but rather by the resolution of it.
Utilize conflict as the opportunity that it is. Build intimacy. Live authentically. Love deeply. It is your calling.
Quinn Rivera // Humbled Daily Co-founder, doctor in training and aspiring professional lover of life.