Thursday, March 30, 2017

It's Easier to Avoid Conflict... or Maybe Not

Have you ever been in that place where you are upset with someone - maybe for a good reason, maybe not - but you just don't feel comfortable approaching them? You would prefer to avoid any conflict, so you try to ignore the negative emotions instead, hoping the issues will just go away. You try to down-play it, saying maybe it's just you overreacting. Or you think that confronting the person will just make things worse.

But it festers.

Soon you find yourself really angry and hurt. Maybe you ignore the person. Maybe you start visibly showing signs of that anger. But you still won't tell the person what is wrong, even if they specifically ask.

Most of us don't like conflict. And, if we don't talk to the other person, we believe we won't be the cause of any conflict. We believe we'll be able to keep peace.

And yet, we don't.

By avoiding conflict, we unintentionally cause more and greater conflict. We cause more intense anger or pain within ourselves. We direct that anger and pain onto others - sometimes even onto those who aren't even involved in the initial problem. If we continue to avoid, we risk that hurt and anger turning into hate and broken relationships and everything we were trying to avoid in the first place.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Stop avoiding conflict.

Conflict is inevitable - especially among people who care about each other. Instead of avoiding that conflict, face it head on. Own up to the fact that something is bothering you. Yes, you might hurt the other person. Yes, you might get hurt (but, well, you are already hurting...). But it is still better to face it right away, before it has a chance to fester and grow.

Forgiveness and moving on can only happen once you take the steps necessary to resolve the conflict. And this forgiveness and moving on is much easier if you discuss things before it gets to the point of broken relationships.

May God give you the strength and courage to confront those who've hurt you - and to approach those whom you've hurt - so that forgiveness and reconciliation can happen.

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