Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. …
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Do any of these Scriptures come to mind when you think of conflict? How easy are they to keep when you are in the midst of a battle? If you are like me, you may try to reflect on Scripture, utter a prayer, or maybe sing some hymns of praise under your breath. But, even those do not always work! Ugh. Bill Hybels offers us a simple, but helpful look into how his outlook changed on conflict.
How well do you handle conflict? He found that his response was "not well."
Feel Your Pain; You'll Feel Their Pain Better
Bill states that with the help of his wife, Christian counselors, and other trusted friends (wow - all of that!!), he's learning a more constructive way to negotiate conflict. He has learned to admit to the person involved that what they said or did hurt him, and has slowly learned to feel that hurt on a deeper level. He's learned to say "ouch" and talk about what that ouch means, rather than discounting relational wounds and powering past them. Interesting.
He says that as he gets better at acknowledging the hurt that conflict causes him, he also becomes more aware of the hurt that conflict causes others. This has led him to approach conflict resolution with a much gentler spirit, both for his sake and for others' sake.
Bottom line, we're talking about a kind of vulnerability in relationships that may not come naturally to you. But understand it may be a necessary part of obedience to Christ. Acknowledge and Feel your pain; allow that to guide you toward empathy.
Something to Think About
Coping with difficult people is always a problem, especially if the difficult person happens to be yourself.