Have you recently encountered conflict with your spouse? Friend? Co-worker? Or Boss? It’s been said that when you encounter conflict, God is often times really trying to work on you. What is He trying to do? He seeks to develop your character and allow you to bear the fruit of the spirit.
In other words, God uses situations and in effect conflict to ensure that we will have more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
When we encounter conflict or difficult people, most people tend to respond with a “fight or flight” approach. They either dig their heels in and duke it out until the end or they check out – mentally, emotionally or sometimes physically.
In relationships, you have to be aware of how you handle conflict and how your loved one handles conflict because it could be a recipe for disaster. If you are a fighter and your significant other is just the opposite, when you lash out or get really snappy to prove your point, you may actually be driving them further away. Your attempt to reason with them may entirely be overshadowed with the delivery. So, even if you are “right”, they may never be able to receive what you’re saying because of how you’re saying it. Likewise, if you are a person who takes flight, you have to be really sensitive to how that makes the other person feel when you shut down or close others out.
This is where bearing the fruit of the spirit comes in. When it comes to conflict, you often need a dose of God because you really have to depend on God on constraining the emotions that are not constructive in that moment. You have to bear self-control so as to not go postal. You have to allow love to work in you, so that you don’t answer with a swift, harsh tongue. You have to embrace peace so that aggravation and irritation don’t take over. These principles can be applied to any relationship.
Case in point, I was recently talking to a friend and there was a group of casual acquaintances standing in a circle a few feet away. I wasn’t paying them any attention until I heard one of them say, “something, something, hssss, Desiree.” I heard them mention my name, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. But, then a second girl says, “Umm hmmm, girl, cause Desiree….” (voice fades off and I can’t hear any more). The third girl says something in a hushed voice and they all burst out in laughter. I was like, “For real? Really?” I was so appalled that these grown women were talking about me, in my face, like we are 12 years old on the playground. It upset me and honestly hurt my feelings and I wondered how to respond. So many thoughts ran across my mind, but the one that prevailed was the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Don’t worry about what they say about you….Focus on what I say about you.” And I knew I couldn’t respond in the moment with what I felt. Instead, I asked God to help me bite my tongue, partially so that I wouldn’t go off on them, but also partially because I knew I was being tested. It’s a challenge, but I think each time we respond to conflict in the way that God intends, He builds us up.
I think the same is true in romantic relationships. If we responded to conflict under God’s guidance, I believe we would see stronger marriages. Ask yourself, How do you respond when your significant other does or says something you don’t like? Do you shut down and give them the silent treatment? (That’s not love) Do you give them a piece of your mind? (That’s not self-control) Do you catch a bad attitude? (That’s not peace). As hard as it may be, we have to handle conflict and not let it handle us. We have to learn how not to respond in the moment and how to effectively deal with our emotions. This can only be done with God’s grace. As a point of introspection, pray and ask God for the right response and to reveal what areas you need to work on.. And then implement it….because our relationships depend on it.
Photo courtesy of: getacluetoday.com
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