Saturday, January 28, 2012

Less Stressed Conflict

I would guess, if I were to do a reliable poll that a good portion of the major stressors in our lives have to do with conflicts in relationships. We all have them. Some of them are as simple as the conflict you may have with a insanely frustrating USPS agent over the phone (been there recently) or as difficult as a fight with a long time friend, or a sister.

Conflict is never an easy thing, and is often the source of some serious ongoing stress for many of us.

I realize, that personality has a huge part to do with how we each deal with conflict. As well as how were were raised, both because of example and because of past hurts or things that molded us into dealing with things a certain way.  So, I don't want to overgeneralize about this topic by any means.

But, over the course of especially the last few years, in close relationship with my "less stress" journey I have really worked to develop methods that help me manage this type of stressor in my own life. I have learned a few things, and God is still in the active process of showing me. Even still, I would like to share some of those lessons ...for me, and hopefully for you as well.

As with most major areas of stress, I use my "Stress Strategies" on this one too. 

Remember, first you have to give any and all conflicts to God before even attempting to manage it on your own.

Then, get rid of it.

What about any given conflict can you get rid of?  ..."Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior." Ephesians 4:31

Easier said than done, I know but so often we forget that many conflicts are rooted in things that can only lead to things that create an even greater struggle for our spirit. If your conflict has roots of bitterness, rage, or anger ...get rid of it.  If you find yourself slandering someone due to your conflict with them ..chances are good that will not help, get rid of it.  And of course, if sin itself is the root of your conflict must get rid of it.

Consider your part to get it done.

So often conflicts are fed and continued because the one or both parties simply cannot do what needs doing, be it ask forgiveness or give it. It may be a matter of picking up the phone, approaching them in person or simply taking the first step at resolution ...but, get it done.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  Colossians 3:13 what needs to be done.

How about, get control of it.

I am sure I dont have to explain this one too thoroughly, you get it. How often are our conflicts worsened or at the very least, not helped by our tongue (or fingers!). 

Our anger, is really to blame. That uncontrolled feeling can easily ignite a world of trouble for us ...James says so: "The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." 3:6

Yeah, I can relate too.

He also gives the solution...get control of it.

"Dear brothers, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires for us."  James 1:19

And, this one is too good not to note:

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man (or woman) who lacks self-control" Prov 25:28

The NLT says, "Like a city without walls is a man with no control of his spirit."  

How much less stressful our conflicts would be were to control both our emotions and our tongues? ..a world less stressful!

Then, get over it.

Um, yeah. Another one I probably don't need to explain! :)

Actually, I have learned to use this one A LOT as I have really worked on making my conflicts less stressful. I have NOT mastered it in every situation (I am currently working diligently at letting go of something now, its not easy!) but I have found that 90% of the time a quick determination to let it go, works miracles in the long run.

Often, we may be motivated my remembering that our own offenses have been "gotten over" long before now ..." For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

Trust me, if you can..let it go. Chances are the stress and resources your conflict saps is not the best use of the resources you have been given. If you are able (and its appropriate) ...get over it, my friend. 

Sometimes, in dealing with with conflict we need to get a new plan.

Do you find that you are often in the middle of conflicts with others? Do you find that much of your stress is linked to one or more conflicts with people at any given time? ..may I suggest, gently that how you handle your conflicts may need another look?

I know its hard to consider such things, especially when you are faced with the hurt that comes with these repeated conflicts ..but I have watched for myself recently, someone who has learned that her past conflict style did not nurture the relationships she so treasured, determining she would change it.

And she changed the course of a heated conflict, just like that.  She changed her plan, and it cut the conflict short.

Like I elluded to before, how we handle our conflicts has so many roots. We can easily, by following our nature find ourselves dealing with things in ways that are not how God would have handle them. We may find ourselves reacting in certain ways, responding in certain communication styles, choosing words (or worse, unhealthy silence) to deal with our conflicts. We often need to examine oru conflict resolution methods by God's rule and see if they measure up.

If they don't, we may need a new plan.

And, one biggie ...we may would benefit from a getting a new perspective.

Oh, how many times I have been angry and come so close to saying or doing things that I am so thankful for now that I didnt follow through with. Often it is because I had no idea at the time what may have been going on with that other person!

In the last few weeks, I have been frustrated and angry with someone ...writing a draft letter to explain my irritation and selfish emotions. By advise of my more leveled-emotion husband I did not send it, and was so thankful when I found out that it would have only added to a world of stress and struggle this person was having at the exact same time I would have sent it.

I am sad to say, I have also not held my tongue and let my emotions run rampant only to learn that instead of being justified in my offense I simply was being selfish and nearsighted by not seeing things from their perspective.

Seeing things from another's perspective can make all the difference in diffusing a conflict. By taking the time to take yourself out of the picture can help you see a world of difference about some things. Be it the cashier at the grocery store, the slow grandma in the fast lane, the husband or that gal at work who seems to hate you, everyone has a story and their perspective may change everything.

And, please don't forget ..."Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" Ephesians 4:32

Finally, and often the only solution for any conflict ...give it to God, again.

Of course, we have all had those times when conflict and its resolution is beyond our control or any effort we may be willing to give to it. We may have been willing to do anything possible to resolve an issue with someone, and find that it is no closer to finding a resolution than when you started.

It is possible that there are conflicted relationships that simply are beyond your influence. Those conflicts can only be let go into the faithful hands of a God who is not hindered by hurt, or paralyzed by past insult.

Never forget, dear sister ..never, never forget to "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalms 55:22


Conflicts are as diverse as the people in our lives - and not every one can be answered with a simple formula or algorithm for fixing it. A good portion of them can at least be lessened in their stressful influence, though when we purpose to handle them in ways that more in line with how God would have us nurture these relationships.

Do you have a conflict that you are currently struggling with? 
..can you relate to any of these thoughts?

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