I don’t have a degree in psychology or theology or anything like that. I do have some experience with this topic and wanted to share my man-on-the-street thoughts about conflict.
Most people don’t like conflict.
Yes, there are some who thrive on it. They are the ones who like to instigate strife just to watch what happens, but most normal people don’t like conflict. I would put myself in the “normal” category. I really don’t like conflict. It frequently causes suffering and it can destroy relationships. However, I am a firm believer that conflict should not be swept under the rug. For example, “if I just ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist it will go away.” Actually, I find it impossible to go forward when there is a pink elephant in the room and no one is talking about it. I immediately want to shake people and say: “don’t you see that? We have to do something about it!” This has gotten me into some sticky situations on more than one occasion. Yes, when you are drawing other people’s attention to that pesky pachyderm -timing is everything. Not to mention having the right motives. This brings me to my next thought…
Confronting conflict can be productive.
Most normal people like confrontation even less than they like conflict, but if motives are pure and the desired outcome of a confrontation is to bring resolution, I say that is the best way to go.
This includes those times when the conflict is within ourselves. Perhaps we are living a life surrendered to God and because of that He calls us to confront some things deep within.
Either way for external conflict or internal conflict in order to achieve the best possible outcome when confronting it, I think it can be wise to invite in a mediator. He/she can be helpful in getting through the pain and to the heart of the conflict. This may be a mutual friend, a pastor or in some cases maybe a professional or lay counselor.
There should also be one more participant when we are confronting conflcit: Jesus Christ. After all, who better to help fix what is broken than the One who created us?
“…though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Yup. That’s my 2 cents on the matter, and I’m sticking to it.