Usually I am always racking my brains on what to write each time. However, as soon as I read this month’s title, it all seemed too close to home. Not that I was thrilled about writing about it! Let’s just say I am as excited to write about conflict resolution as much I am excited to get my eyebrows threaded or a band aid ripped off. It’s all too painfully familiar but it must be done.
For those of you who know me, you wouldn’t picture me as someone who would engage even an intense verbal argument let alone a cat fight. It doesn’t mean that I am in absolute peace and contentment at all times with all the relationships in my life, it’s just that my weapon of choice is not a loud exchange of words or storming out the room or flipping a chair, but it’s just – silence.
It worked for me for a while. I could distance myself from circumstances or people that didn’t seem to operate in harmony with ease and it was all good. Well, that was till I got married. There is no running away when you’re doing life with this one person. There is no distancing yourself from their ‘not -so-adorable-anymore’ eccentricities. As much as they warn you how much of conflict occurs in marriage, I was completely ignorant of how ill prepared I was for it.
Many of us are familiar to the “Fight or Flight” response to stress or threat. While I am the quintessential “Flee-er”, my husband is proportionately the opposite. My side of the family would call in 3 family meetings to discuss elaborately opinions and feelings on what colour we should paint the bedroom, while his side of the family would have some fiery exchange of opinions over dinner for 5 mins about the same and go back to laughing over some silly whatsapp forward- like nothing happened! My husband could easily and graciously tell one of his friends that they need to lose weight and still be best friends with them! ( Don’t worry,I told him that would never work with a girl). Enough said, we came from 2 opposite ends of the spectrum and of course we brought that into our marriage. Each of us believed that it is exactly how every family functioned.
As we began to build our lives together, I realized how much more I struggled with confronting sin whether it was my own, my husband’s or of a close friend. I would even have my spiritual justifications for not confronting them. I would hide behind ” Love is patient”, “Love covers a multitude a sins” and “This too shall pass”. Though those are golden guidelines to live by, slowly yet surely I recognised that me not confronting sin and hurt were not guided by such godly intentions- rather they were a result of ‘Fear’ and ‘Pride’. Fear of confronting somebody who has hurt you and pride that won’t allow you to admit and face your own flaws.
Unfortunately, a lot of well meaning, godly women struggle with this. As women, we discuss our problems and issues in long winding conversations, preferably over some fancy coffee. While men can exchange a few harsh words, get over it and then discuss where they can go grab some dinner- all in under 15 mins. We are just fine tuned differently and praise God for that!
As you get older, our conflicts are more covert. They are no more about pulling each other’s pigtails over sharing a toy or slamming doors because your mom didn’t approve of a sleepover; rather they are more of strained relationships over some unkind deed done, a mindless comment passed or just plain misunderstanding. They may not be as obvious but the hurt and damage is very real. As Christians, we are called to reconcile relationships and at the same time to renounce sin. As much as we live in the period of grace, God still detests sin and injustice and expects us to have the same indifference whether you may see that in yourself or in another.
There is a fine delicate balance between being gracious, honest and forgiving while confronting people who may have hurt or sinned against you or others. On one hand Jesus was abundantly benevolent to the woman at the well who lived in sin while on the other, He literally flipped tables when He found God’s temple being misused. I can’t say for sure I know what that middle ground is.
Having said that, I am now learning to share freely with my husband my discontentments in plain, simple, direct words -whether it’s about the dresser drawers he often forgets to shut or a thoughtless hurtful word said. I just need to make sure that it’s not while he is watching a basketball game! And on the other hand, he is learning to point out to me my own flaws in more elaborate, gentle terms, often sugar coated with words of endearment. If any of you reading this is a fellow “Flee-er”, as much as you think you are being patient and forgiving, please examine your hearts and see if they are being led by true godly intentions. I learnt this the hard way, through unnecessary heartache and pain. Turning a blind eye to issues and hurt in your relationships and sweeping them under the rug will only leave you a heaping mess.
May God give you the wisdom to discern when to flip tables and when to have a gracious conversation at a water well as we navigate through the relationships He has placed us in!
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