Conflict is never an easy thing to deal with. I think the rising of conflict is often the time when most if not every Christian realizes that we do have at least some spark of pride in us that God needs to work on! Through much time spent praying, fasting, learning to trust God, and seeking guidance in His Word, I came to understand that I was responsible for my actions no matter what those actions were.
God's Word gives us clear instructions to live by. Sometimes we think that when we are wronged we have the right to mistreat others because they have mistreated us. But God's Word doesn't say that. Instead, He instructs us to do what He knows we can't do without Him, and that is to love those who have wronged us and to forgive them (Matthew 5:43-44).
Having endured sexual abuse as a child this is a lesson that I had to learn first hand. Because my abuser is family to me, I can truly say that my heart holds no bitterness or unforgiveness towards them. I can hug them, talk and laugh with them without ill feelings.
It took me a long time to get there, because I hated them for a long time and felt like they owed me for everything they had taken from me. Yet, God changed all of that. But I had to desire it. I had to want it to be right just as much as God did.
When I finally surrendered it all over to Him, placing it at His feet in prayer and trusting Him to take me gently by the hand and guide me through it, He did just that (Matthew 11:30). The hate slowly but surely lifted. And now God has used me to minister to others who have gone through the same experience.
During the healing process the one thing God made clear to me is that vengeance was His not mine, and that I was to do what was pleasing in His sight (Deuteronomy 32:35). That being said, the first step in conflict resolution is to oust the pride! We are to assume responsibility for our actions and leave the actions of others in the hands of the Lord.
I had to learn that humility sometimes meant sealing my lips even when I knew I was right. God's Word says that He will fight for us and we shall hold our peace (Exodus 14:14)! That doesn't mean that we should let people treat us badly, it does mean that we are to let the Lord guide us in dealing with those by whom we have been mistreated.
I also believe that conflict resolution can only come to be depending on our point of focus. If we see ourselves being held accountable to doing what the Lord has determined is right, then taking those steps toward resolution can be a little bit easier. But when our focus is on the person who has wronged us and the wrong that they have done, resolving the conflict and allowing God to mend the relationship becomes very difficult.
It is during those difficult moments that I have learned to just get on my knees and be transparent in the presence of God. It's not like He doesn't know how we are feeling anyway.
There are times when I have just said, "God I know what your Word says about loving my enemies and praying for those who use and mistreat me, but I don't like this person. I want to do what is pleasing to You, but I am not at the stage where I am able to do that right now, so Father please do as your Word says and purge me with hyssop, creating in me a clean heart that I may love and pray for my enemies in ways that please you."
If we are not being honest with God, then we certainly can't be honest with ourselves or anyone else. God delights in knowing that we need and desire His help.
Oftentimes working toward resolving conflict can seem more difficult than the conflict itself. That is why I can't stress enough the importance of a solid, intimate relationship with the Lord. Not that when adverse circumstances arise you will have all of the answers. Discernment, love, and knowledge of who the Father is and what He can do should drive you to your knees in His presence crying out for His divine guidance.
God never turns a deaf ear to the cries of His children. He hears and He answers (Deuteronomy 26:7). But we have to keep in mind that it is not in our timing and not necessarily in ways that even make sense to us (Isaiah 55:8).
1. Recognize that there is conflict that needs to be resolved.
2. Desire to work toward resolving the conflict.
3. Go to God in prayer and be open and honest with Him about how you are feeling.
4. Search the Word for scriptures that will hold you accountable to the Lord. Find out
what His Word says about how we should treat others, especially those we feel have mistreated us.
5. Ask God to show you how to apply his Word to your situation.
6. Realize that resolution is not about you giving in to anyone. Rather, it is about your
submission to the Lord, because ultimately He is who we live to please.
7. Oust the pride! Stop feeling sorry for yourself because you feel as if everyone is doing
or has done you wrong. Every one of us has been wronged at some point in our lives,
you are not the first and you won't be the last.
Romans best sums up what our response to conflict should be by reminding us:
“Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good” (Romans 12:20-10 The Message).