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All of us, whether young or young at heart, married or single, mother or not, will encounter conflict in our lives. The way we handle conflict becomes either an amazing opportunity to give God glory in how it is resolved, or a thorn in our side that we struggle to get right.
Many of the hurts of my past resulted in a great deal of conflict in my life. And all of you have had events in your life, both negative and positive, that have shaped your ability to resolve conflict and more importantly, your willingness to do so.
Proverbs 11:2 says ‘Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.’
I was once a poor girl from Mississippi who used government assistance just to makes ends meet. When I landed a job in Corporate America and became successful, I didn’t bother to guard my heart against pride. Humility wasn’t my first goal, if I’m being completely transparent with you. Conflict wasn’t viewed as an opportunity to give God glory, but rather a welcomed opportunity for me to boost my own ego. So when I told someone off, or gossiped behind their back, or ranted for ridiculous amounts of time…. It made me feel better about me. It helped me to mask old wounds that had been left undealt with.
What are some of the things in our lives that cause conflict? There are many, but here are just a few:
- Insecurity – (Whether our own insecurity or someone else’s, it can cause major problems.)
- Misunderstanding - (Sometimes we simply misunderstand someone’s intention.)
- Satan’s plan of division – (Why wouldn’t he cause conflict & division? He’s masterful at it).
- Exhaustion – (When we are doing too much, too often, and not resting, conflict arises.)
All of us will face misunderstandings or exhaustion and many have dealt with insecurity, so, what do we do to resolve these conflicts well?
1. Issue grace. Most of us would rather receive grace than issue it. It’s easier for us to see all the reasons why God should give us grace, because our heart is good and we’re good people and we didn’t mean to fail Him – than it is for us to see the good in others and just give them a break. Maybe they are completely unreasonable. And maybe you are completely right. But it’s so important for us to look at how we can maintain and mend relationships than how we can be right. (Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit, binding yourselves together in peace.)
2. Take your offense directly to the person (See Matthew 18:15). Girls, it is unfair to assume others in our lives know what we are hurt about, when we don’t talk to them about it. And it is even more unfair to discuss it with others when you haven’t discussed it with them. And we do both. Don’t gossip about it. Don’t fester about it. Take it to them in love. And when you take it to them, take it to them in hopes of resolution with a pure heart - not in hopes that you can convince them how right you are.
3. Speak life over the situation. The power of life and death are in the tongue. (Prov. 18:21) Most of us are church girls. We get it. We understand about keeping our tongue in line with God’s word. Yet, we struggle to do so. When we want to resolve conflict, we must speak honor over those we are in relationship with. If you think you can speak negatively about your girlfriend, your sister, your pastor, your boss, your Bible study leader, and NOT grow division in your heart, you are wrong. Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we could just watch our mouths? Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said. Ecc. 10:20
4. Battle your thoughts. Phil 4:8 says to fix our thoughts on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. You cannot keep playing in your mind over and over and over what they said, what they did, an expect resolution. You cannot keep negative thoughts from coming into your mind. But it is your choice what you do with them, when they get there.
Friends, we are all armor bearers of something. Whether it’s your spouse, a friendship, your pastor, your boss, a ministry you are passionate about, your kids --- you are championing the cause for something and someone. And as such, you must begin to see yourself as mightily carrying the armor for someone else in your life to complete their mission – just as there are those in your life bearing armor for you.
What’s at stake if we don’t battle well? Rest assured, the conflict will grow. It becomes bigger than it ever needed to be. It shapes us. We become bitter, anger, and offended and no one can stand to be around us, instead of humble and graceful and strong. And we will also be so distracted with the conflict that we don’t focus on fulfilling our purpose. How could we be busy about our Father’s business, when we’re telling anyone who will listen about our conflict?
Let’s decide today that we are going to problem solvers, not problem seekers. And when conflict does seek us out, we’ll be strong women of God who see it for what it is and determine in our hearts that we’ll overcome it with God’s help.
Jennifer Maggio is an author and speaker whose personal journey through abuse, death, single parenting, and homelessness has left many around the globe riveted. She is CEO and Founder of the Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has a passion to see the body of Christ living in complete freedom. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.