Managing Conflict (Even When Others Don’t Want It Resolved)
Have you ever found yourself enmeshed in a conflict? Upset by the way a loved one was treated? Angry at an unfair situation?
Hurt and Pain
A while back someone I love dearly landed in the middle of a mess. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings led to gossip and untruthful statements,verbal barbs and unkind actions. And the aftermath has continued.
As the situation unfolded and enlarged, anger took root deep in my soul. This person I loved was being hurt, repeatedly. They were treated unfairly. I understand everyone in a conflict has a unique perspective and that truth often lies somewhere in the middle, but the situations I observed with my own eyes made me cringe. Worse, I also loved the people on the other side of the situation and felt betrayed by their actions. Attempts were made to reach out and talk through the issues, but so far have been turned down. The hurtful behaviors have continued.
What To Do?
Hmm…maybe I should start with what I did first, AKA “What not to do.”
In my mind I formulated extensive arguments with the people involved, imagining how I would make my case to them about the unfairness and unkindness and how it all just needed to STOP.
I also began to have difficulty interacting with the people involved. I wondered, do I say hello? If I act like everything is cool am I endorsing or enabling the negative behavior to continue? I also wanted to control the situation, to fix it, but none of us can fix another person’s heart.
How To Pray?
I tried praying about it, but in my anger I had a hard time. Every time I started to pray, I reverted back to my internal arguments about how unfair the situation had been and how my person had been wronged and how I could “prove” my side of things. Anger not only took root, it burrowed down deep, ready for a long winter.
In yet another attempt to pray through this situation, I heard that small whisper. You know that one? The one where it might not be what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear, and you know it’s probably the Holy Spirit who has been trying to get your attention all along. I tested these whispers against scripture and they lined up, so I knew I needed to listen. Oh how my willful heart tried to resist…
Making My Case
What I was missing in the situation was that I needed to stop trying to build a court case for an imaginary confrontation. This was only hurting me, causing me to dwell in negative places and letting anger control my thoughts. I needed to LET GO and realize several things:
First, God is our advocate. We can’t control what others think of us and we don’t need to worry about it. In her study entitled Stuck, Jennie Allen says, “When we worry about what other people think of us we make them too big.” They increase in importance, and the truth of what God says about us can diminish. God is the judge and king of the entire universe; everything in creation is subjected to him. Why spend so much time on something we cannot control that harms us?
Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high.
Second, only God can change a heart. We can fight and strive and insist all we want, but we will never (thank the Lord) be someone else’s Holy Spirit and we will never be in charge of their free will. As much as we want someone to change, we need to realize in the past there have been people who have wanted us to change too. We should keep our focus on being right with God rather than worrying about other people’s hearts. The one heart we CAN change is our own through Jesus.
The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1
The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.
How To Pray!
- We can pray for peace over people’s heart.
- Pray for renewed minds in Jesus.
- Pray for God to go between all the people involved and to help them see HIS truth, not just our own perspectives.
- Pray for forgiveness and for an understanding and compassionate spirit toward others.
- Pray for God to give us His attitude during interactions, not our own.
- And most of all, pray for Him to take care of it because he is God.