Conflict never arises when we’re prepared, expecting it, or at our convenience. Stories abound from my past as warnings to my future self reminding me of how not to react to conflict. I avoid it at all cost. I was very much bullied in high school, and the last emotion I would ever want to relive is anything remotely close to how I felt in those days; nevertheless, conflict is a part of human life.
As an adult, I’m not exactly being stalked in the hallways, or met at my locker for yet another “confrontation,” but moments occur when I have to face another person who is being unfair, unrealistic, or just plain mean. How do we keep the peace when someone is trying to attack?
When we are hurt by others, we have to look to God for help, be like Christ, and remember to forgive.
Being good neighbors isn’t just about smiling and waving to the nice old man who lives next door; although, I’m sure he appreciates that smile and wave, it isn’t exactly hard to do. It’s more difficult to smile and wave at the lady who ran over your mailbox and sped off down the road. It’s difficult to ask, “how are you” when you know that person has been talking about you negatively, or when a coworker tries to undermine you and get you reprimanded in order to look better herself. Imagine a friend stealing, a neighbor infringing on your privacy, or people ganging up on you on social media.
I bring up this last one in particular because I witnessed it just a few days ago. Going through FB posts on my feed, I came across a post with a lot of comments. Naturally, I scrolled down to see what it was all about. It started with a rant from a woman about other women (why is this part of our culture?), and other women started harping on the same subject. Then someone who is actually going through the subject being judged decided she would chime in to try and advocate for women going through this particular hardship. Well, what I saw next was plain flat-out appalling! These grown women were resorting to name calling, slut-shaming, finger pointing, and down-right nasty cyber bullying. I was shocked as memories and emotions from my past started finding their way into my world once again.
Some where along the way, some of us lost our grace, while others of us went through awful experiences and learned to sympathize with others. The only advice I have to offer when you’re going through a conflict is that you decide to be on the side of grace — sympathize with others, don’t judge or shame someone. Be a peacemaker by not thinking about it as a win or lose situation. It truly is one of those moments to stop and ask yourself, “What would Jesus do.”
Even if it’s just a petty argument you’ve had with your neighbor over property lines or barking dogs, just think about how good you’ve got it; it could truly be so much worse. Be thankful for all the things from which God has kept you, and be on the side of grace when being confronted by another. We must deal with conflict showing love and forgiveness just as Christ taught us.