Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Redemptive Nature of Conflict

Most of us disdain conflict, except maybe attorneys. Conflict can take the form of inner conflict, conflict with God, and conflict in relationships. Show me a person who no longer experiences conflict and chances are that someone is dead. Jesus had conflict as well. In and of itself conflict is not bad. Its what we think about conflict and how we choose to deal with it that determines how we grow.

In any situation conflict challenges us. Emotions are stirred with-in us and it gets messy. It makes us look inside and dig deeper into our motivations and our conflicts with those motivations. There are layers upon layers inside of us. Often we first wrestle with another's motivations and their layers to circumvent the more painful and tedious process of examining our own. It requires more of us, and so we often choose not to deal with it. It's easier to rationalize and pull back or give up. The old saying pick your battles is true--conflict can be exhausting.

But conflict is also necessary. It is necessary for intimacy in this life. Think of the conflict that happens when you battle to make time for God or to really open yourself up to God. There is someone else that doesn't want that relationship to grow. Think about the feelings of conflict you may have with God every once in do you deal with that? Certainly running away or rationalizing does not foster the intimacy. It is the same with our personal relationships and then some.

I often battle when things seem unjust and people are hurt. Hence, it may not seem like it, but I am afraid of conflict as well. This is especially true in relationships that mean something to me. That first conflict usually decides the fate of the relationship for me.

Peeling back the layers is scary, sometimes we don't want to see things about ourselves and about others and about our relationships. Last time I checked however illusions don't last. The beauty of conflict is that you can begin to be loved for who you really are and you can begin to love others for who they really are. As you both accept who you are, you are then free to choose to change and sacrifice and stretch to help build a closer relationship or decide to part ways if you both decide you can't move forward.

Conflict can be the pathway to realizing that freedom. You will only feel loved and have the freedom to truly love if you have the freedom to change your actions or not. You can choose different actions and still be who you are. Conflict makes you feel alive emotionally by making you aware of two opposing forces. It builds character by allowing you the opportunity to embrace the truth and eventually the opportunity to forgive.

We all have many lessons to learn through conflict. My lesson is to not runaway form it initially or when the heat gets too hot in the kitchen. What's your lesson? Love (God) endures all things and hopes for all things. In the end, conflict may be the divine pathway toward redemption. Certainly Jesus' conflict with the world had Him allow the crucifixion. But it also allowed the resurrection and the beauty of redemption, love and forgiveness. May God help us through the redemptive nature of conflict.


Rich said...
October 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM  

I admire the humble caring you put into this post, Angela...

Jotted this down when reading Pema Chodron's, "When Things Fall Apart" (fantastic book, btw!), and thought it apropos:

"Regarding what arises as awakened energy reverses our fundamental habitual pattern of trying to avoid conflict, trying to make ourselves better than we are, trying to smooth things out and pretty them up, trying to prove that pain is a mistake and would not exist in our lives if only we did all the right things. This view turns that particular pattern completely around, encouraging us to become interested in looking at the charnel [messy, uncertain] ground of our lives as the working basis for attaining enlightenment."

Post a Comment