CONFLICT... WITHIN THE FAMILY
KIND OF LIKE SNOW IN THE DESERT...IT JUST DOES NOT SEEM RIGHT!
Conflict within the immediate and/or extended family slams into our life at one time or another. It hurts more when those we love turn away, or turn against. With friends we may feel betrayed, but don’t have the continual complexities of family functions that throw us together. In other words, it behooves us to engage in a little conflict resolution when dealing with family.
1) I start with personal introspection. I look within. I consider that all conflict begins with me, then I set about changing what I can.
Example: Just recently I had a situation on the job…it did not include family, but the principals are the same. I was told I was too high energy, too intense, by a co-worker; this made her look bad because she could not keep that pace. When I analyzed this, I realized she was right. I have been given the gift, or the curse, (whichever way you want to look at it) of being an over-achiever, Type A personality. I could see that I had to step back, give that co-worker space, and realize that she was created differently with her own set of strengths and weaknesses. This understanding has provided a welcome peace.
2) Consider what is happening in that other person’s life. Stress does strange things to people. They may be going through a tough season of life…children may be an issue, finances, marriage break-up, health problems, etc. the list goes on. It may be the family member you struggle with envy’s your position in life, and believes you have it easy compared to them. All these factors of stress, actually make the problem theirs not yours, but you can help by extending grace and mercy.
a. What is mercy you ask? Mercy is giving that person unmerited favor and compassion, as described in 2 Cor. 1:3. The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Jesus has shown us mercy and comfort, and can give us the strength to extend this to others.
b. Grace is offering unmerited forgiveness, defined as divine love or pardon. Romans 5:20 Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. The key word here, is unmerited…this means the person does not earn nor deserve grace, and in the worst scenarios does not acknowledge blame nor ask for forgiveness…unmerited.
3) Lastly, choose love.
I know it is hard to accept, but sometimes we receive the worst from those who are to love us the most. No matter what is thrown our way, the answer is to choose love for the purpose of inner healing.
What does “love” look like? Does this mean going back for more abuse?
No. In abusive situations create safe boundaries and space. Seek out professional help if you are unsure how to define abuse. However, still choose love in order to heal.
I know from experience depending on the betrayal, that healing and forgiveness takes time. During this difficult season I learned two valuable truths. Do you remember chemistry in school where blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions and red litmus paper turns blue under basic alkaline conditions? Well I have a litmus test to indicate if I I’m walking in love or not. I prefer to stay colorful instead of blue...
a. Red: If I can pray for the person who has harmed me from my heart, a blue situation turns colorful, hopeful. There is a powerful and cathartic value to prayer, especially prayer for those who have harmed us. Blue: However, if I cannot pray, I know bitterness is right around the corner and my mind and countenance will turn blue and grow darker.
b. Red: The intensity of pain from conflict or betrayal will fade over time, if Godly love is chosen. This principal applies regardless if an apology is given or not. Blue: If the pain, hurt and anger continue to fester and grow inside, along with self-pity and judgment, this indicates I have not forgiven that person, nor do I really want to. This choice steals peace, and controls my mind with negativity. Having tried it both ways, I have found that choosing God's way…love…is the only way to happiness and peace within.
Mathew 5:44 (Jesus says) But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
This kind of love is difficult, but Jesus never instructs us to live an impossibility. He gives the strength, if we but ask. The reward is beautiful... healing of our soul and peace in our family. I have learned that His way...is the only way, and so I choose red... the color of love!