A while back I decided to write posts specifically for teens on Tuesdays. I haven’t kept up with this, but I’m making it one of my goals for the new year to be more faithful to my Teen Tuesday posts.
This weeks we’re talking about dealing with conflict. When I was in High School I had to deal with conflict quite frequently. It seemed I was always having problems with my friends, whether it be gossip, jealousy or just feeling left out. It wasn’t that I purposefully started any of these conflicts, but they came up anyways and I had to face them. Here are some of the steps I learned from scripture, to deal with and resolve conflict. Maybe they can help you too!
Step 1: Face it Head On
It seems like for girls especially, our tendency is to avoid the person we’re in conflict with and instead go to everyone else but that person. We often get caught up in gossip and excuse it as “venting” or “getting stuff off our chest”. But let’s call it like it is. When you’re talking about someone else and they aren’t there, it’s gossip.
Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”
Instead of talking about the person, talk to the person you’re in conflict with!
It may sound like I have this all figured out, but I still struggle with this. It’s hard to be courageous and approach someone when you know there is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s the only way. When you do approach the person you’re having problems with remember not to accuse them, but to tell them how you feel.
Step 2: Pray for Them
The other day when I was venting to my husband about some frustrations I was having (see, I just called it “venting”) and he told me to pray for them. I’ll tell ya it was the very last thing I wanted to do, but he made me do it ; ) And thank goodness he did because as soon as I began to ask God to bless this person all the anger and frustration died down.
Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
When we pray for someone we allow God’s perspective in. Our ways are not his ways and he doesn’t see things the way we do. If we choose not to pray for those we’re in conflict with because we don’t feel like it, we’re just making the conflict worse. Don’t let your heart harden by refusing to obey God on this one.
Step 3: Forgive!
Forgiveness doesn’t require an apology.
I really wish this wasn’t true but it is! We don’t need to have someone tell us how sorry they are for us to release the anger and forgive. This has been a hard one for me to accept. After I graduated from high school I dated a guy quite seriously for three years and in the end had my heart broken. I wasn’t treated with respect, I was lied to and I was left feeling worthless and betrayed. And I held onto that hurt for a long time because I couldn’t forgive. I tried talking to him, I tried praying for him, but nothing brought the reconciliation I hoped for because what I really wanted was an apology. That apology never came, and maybe it never will. But I’ve learned to forgive because God first forgave me! When we don’t forgive it only destroys us, not the other person.
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another…Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
You can’t control anyone but yourself. You may never get the apology you feel you deserve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t forgive and move on.
As long as we walk on this planet and live in relationship with others we will face conflict. Don’t be afraid to face it head on! God gave us the steps we need to take and he knows best – trust him and you will find freedom in conflict situations that seem impossible to resolve.