Monday, February 11, 2013

Conflict Sucks!

Matthew 18:15-17 ESV
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

We've all been there...the moment when a conflict arises and you don't really know how to handle it, but your emotions take you down a path you know isn't best.  It sucks.  Truly sucks.  Its far too easy to say things, in the heat of a moment, that are hurtful and unkind, and probably don't even represent your deepest feelings, its just the "heat" talking.  The adrenaline just takes over and causes the filter between our brains and our mouths to stop working. 

Unfortunately, the world of social media and email has only added to our problems. I can't tell you how much drama has entered my life via facebook in the 4+ years I've been on that wonderful site!  This weekend was no exception...stupid conflict over misinterpretations and misunderstandings...a total breakdown of adult communication that has had some pretty serious outcomes.  Everything is okay, now, but the pain of it all really stings.  Things were said that cannot be unsaid and feelings were hurt.  Even when it isn't intentional, it never feels good to hurt someone's feelings, does it?

So, I turned to the Bible, to determine if I had handled the conflict, during its growing stages, as best I could.  I read Matthew 18:15-17.  I asked myself "Did you talk to the person in private?" Yes. "Did you talk to the person again, with witnesses?" Yes.  "Did you tell the 'church' (larger group)?" Yes.  "Is the person willing to listen to the issue and work it out?" No. It doesn't appear to be the case. 

Okay, I've done all I can.  I've prayed for God's guidance and have tried to apologize for the things I've done to contribute to the conflict. I've offered to continue the discussion, in a new tone, to no avail.  So, a decision was made. A painful decision and one that is definitely not the easiest decision to follow-through with, but nevertheless, the best decision.  Now, its time to just move on. 

Sometimes, relationships can be salvaged after conflicts. Othertimes, they cannot.  The last line of this portion of scripture says "And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."  God is simply telling us not every relationships can survive a conflict and he tells us to move on.  He doesn't say dwell on it.  He doesn't say let it fester. He simply says the relationship is different - move on.

So, that's what I'm doing...moving on.  This piece of my life's puzzle will teach me something and I'll seek to learn all I can.  Its okay. I'm at peace with it.  

Conflict isn't pretty, but God tell's us exactly how to handle it, doesn't He?  Good to know He's really right there...on top of it.

A New Year Means...

You know the routine...all through December you spend your time thinking about what you'll "start" on January 1.  The cultural obsession with "New Year's Resolutions" is something that many of us buy in to - myself included!  Every year, I tell myself "This is the year I ___________". Fill in the blank - get in shape, exercise more, lose weight, read the Bible cover to cover, never say a swear word, never raise my voice at my kids.  The list goes on an on.  I am that person who will make a list of 10 or more things I want to change about my life during that year.  There have even been posts on this blog about all that I'm going to do. 

Typically, about 6 weeks in (or faster), my "resolutions" become the newest list of efforts tried and failed.  Its another list of all the things in my world that I lacked committment to accomplish, those things I allowed to fall out of priority. 

Can you relate?

So, this year, I'm approaching things differently. Instead of making personal resolutions for changes I want to make that will only reallly benefit me, I'm thinking of our family. I'm approaching the issue with my whole family.  We're discussing ways our family can improve. 

We're also approaching our goals with the same goal-setting/outcomes development approach I might use in my social work programs.  Make 'em measurable and attainable...take the larger overall goal in mind (the big picture) and break it down. Allow yourself more than 1 year to implement the full change, in those larger areas! Allow room for improvement and growth year from year.  Remove the pressure and Be Realistic.

Our list for the year:
1) Attend church at least 45 weeks this year! We fell into the trap of being "sporadic" attenders last year and are committed to re-focusing on our woship with fellow believers this year..even considering leading a small group and volunteering in the youth ministry.
2) Eat healthier through a great reduction in the frequency of meals out (maybe 1x/week limit!), sugar, and pop for the family, while I'm going to get a little sneaky on the vegetable front so the kids don't know their eating something good for them!
3) Move more...I really, really, really want to be a runner by the end of the year...we'll see where that goes.

That's it...a small list...a manageable list of goals. Measureable, so we can see our progress and actually achieve the goal. 

What's your list?