Heading home for the holidays may mean relational tension.
There’s a scripture that a lot of people quote when they get into a conflict with someone which you may have heard before: Matthew 5:9,
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
But when we take the stance of “I’m not going to ruffle any feathers, I’m not going to bring up the issue; I’m just going to be a peacemaker,” we ignore what Jesus’ conflict style was.
Jesus didn’t appease people to make a point. He didn’t accommodate people to make a point. He spoke the truth in love, and that is one of the important steps of dealing with a difficult conflict: to speak the truth in love.
Dr. Mintle recalls a bit of advice from Rick Warren that really stuck with her regarding conflict and how to deal with it:
“You know you can’t be right with God and wrong with people.”
There is a real issue in avoiding conflict, even when it’s done so as to not hurt another’s feelings.
“Conflict is a very normal and natural part of every single relationship, and what I want people to really grasp, and why I wrote this book, is because it’s a life skill that we really need to master.”
What happens if we avoid conflict?
“…if you avoid conflict, there are a number of negative consequences, one of them being that people who avoid conflict actually live shortened lives compared to people who deal with conflict. So if you want to live a long life, this is a good thing to learn how to do…plus, it’s going to help you grow your relationships. If you don’t deal with conflict well, your relationships can become destructive and actually won’t grow in the type of intimacy and strong connections that we want with each other.”
The main reason that people avoid conflict is because, for the moment, it feels really good. You’re able to avoid hurt feelings and have the stress of the situation momentarily removed from your shoulders. But Dr. Mintle warns that these feelings are temporary and will only lead to more problems.
“What the research shows is that the next day that stress comes back with a vengeance, because now you’re living with the fact that you haven’t addressed the issue and it continues to be ongoing. And so then again that physical effect on the body, when the body is stressed because things are not right [and] they’re not resolved, this is why the Bible is so clear about wanting us to reconcile with one another… The God who made our bodies, our physical bodies, knows that when we’re living with this tension or unforgiveness or anger, it’s only going to do damage to the body. It also blocks our spiritual relationship when we’re hanging onto anger and unforgiveness as well.”
So even though it can be difficult to deal with conflict, it must be addressed in a truthful and loving manner. By doing this we can have stronger relationships not only with others but with God as well.
Dr. Mintle’s book is: We Need to Talk: How to Successfully Navigate Conflict