Written by Guest Blogger, Ally Vermeer
The e-mail came in right around lunch time.
I remember, because suddenly, the bacon ranch dressing on the salad I was eating wasn’t quite as delicious, and my face flushed enough for my husband, sitting across the table from me, to ask me what was wrong.
The customer was upset and a little mean… and that made me upset and more than a little defensive. It wasn’t a huge issue, and I knew it could be easily rectified, but I felt like there was a pit in my stomach for more than an hour after I’d solved the problem. Ugh.
If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I do not like conflict.
How many of us do, really? We may try to avoid it, but conflict is an inevitable part of life.
We are humans, and humans deal with conflict. All of us.
But as Christians, you and I deal with life differently.
And that includes how we handle conflict.
But before we can deal with conflict well, we need to know where it’s coming from.
We need to evaluate if the issue is with another person, a misunderstanding, or if the issue is really my own darn self.
Conflict when I Have Been Sinned Against
The most obvious source of conflict I see in my own life is conflict that arises when I am wronged.
It happens, you know? Whether it is accidental or intentional, people are people, and they’re going to sin against us. In all honesty, most of the time, my thinking defaults to this kind of conflict. I’m quick to blame the actions of others for relationship tensions and issues… most of the time, I’m far too likely to write off a conflict as the result of someone sinning against me.
In reality, though, most of the time, conflict comes from one of two other sources…
Conflict when I Perceive that I’ve Been Sinned Against
Of course, conflict also comes from circumstances when I think I’m being wronged.
My husband says something that hurts my feelings? Well! He’s obviously insensitive and rude towards me (it couldn’t possibly be because he didn’t know my feelings would be hurt, or because he’s had a difficult day.) My friend doesn’t call me back? She’s not very considerate! (Unless she’s stuck in traffic or had to work late.)
Many of those perceived wrongs simply come about because of miscommunication or differing expectations.
Conflict when My Own Sin is the Issue
Finally, conflict can stem from another place – probably the hardest to admit – the conflict that is really just due to my own sin. An issue inside my own heart.
I think the vast majority of conflicts in my own life fall under this category. Take the time to really delve into a conflict you’re experiencing, and I think you’ll find the same.
“What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you argue.”
James 4:1-2 (emphasis mine)
Maybe (hopefully!) we don’t get so far as to murder anyone, but when I envy someone else, when there is jealousy in my heart, conflicts arise.
Am I actually hurt by my sister’s decisions, or am I just jealous that she’s been able to have children and I haven’t?
Is the trouble that my husband leaves his socks on the floor, or am I just envious of the perfect bedroom I saw on Pinterest?
Am I really angry about the way another person voted, or am I feeling insecure in my own intelligence?
The other person isn’t the issue. My heart is the issue.
Conflicts reveal quite a bit about me.
They reveal my own sin, my own selfishness and self-centeredness. Conflict doesn’t cause these things, it just reveals them.
Let me say that again.
Conflict doesn’t cause my sin, it just reveals the sin that’s already present in my heart.
If you jump into a muddy puddle, you’ll get muddy. What splashes out is exactly what was there all along.
So, think. What’s splashing out in your life? When a conflict comes up, how do you deal with it? Do you get muddy?
As Christians, we need to honor God in all things, including (and maybe especially!) our conflicts.
Join the conversation and please share what you think!
Ally Vermeer is an accidental country girl who traded in wide open spaces for snow covered mountains. She has been featured on Blogs by Christian Women and Grace and Truth, among other Christian websites, and is a regular contributor on Amateur Nester (a website about faith and infertility). Ally spends most of her time being slobbered on by her dog, drinking coffee, laughing at her husband’s antics, and claiming her sole identity in Christ. She writes about her unexpected adventures, provides weekly encouragement, and counts her blessings (even the speckled ones) on her website, The Speckled Goat Blog.