Our pastor spoke on handling conflict yesterday and had some wonderful points. I especially liked his illustration of what happens to us when we hold on to conflict – “It’s like hugging a cactus. You can do it but it will be painful.”
Too many times we hang on to the aftermath of conflict. Hurt feelings, bitterness, self-pity, angry words. We rehash the ugly details of the conflict. Instead we need to confront it, deal with it, and move on. If we refuse to let go, we suffer from painful effects.
We must also recognize our part of conflict. In his book, Peacemaking for Families, Ken Sande reminds us, “It takes two to tangle. The fact is, we frequently contribute in some way to relational problems. Whether it be through our words, our thoughts, our motives, our attitudes, or our deeds, we are more often than not guilty of either starting or at least aggravating any conflict we are involved in.”
That statement resonates with me. I would like to believe that the recent conflict with my stepson was completely his fault. But if I’m truthful with myself, I must admit that I aggravated the situation with my insensitive words.
Our pastor also reminded us, “We can respond to conflict in hatred or love. Make the decision to act in the best interests of the other person.”
Loving others in the midst of conflict is hard. But the aftereffects are much more comfortable than hugging a cactus! “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:17)
Are you hugging a cactus today?