We’ve all looked back at a situation and thought, “Wait, what just happened?” We’ve felt that sting of regret after letting someone push us to our breaking point. The bitter after-taste following a fit of rage. We’ve found ourselves in a nasty circumstance when someone brought out the worst in us. We all make mistakes and we’ll all be faced with conflict. Every one of us. It’s the ugly side of human nature.
Conflict is a part of life. Not the beautiful part we brag about on social media. The ugly part we rehearse in our head in the shower or during a quiet drive in the car. I’ve failed, time and time again, at handling conflict peacefully. Is it safe to say that we all have? It’s always afterwards that I’m able to look back and see how I should have responded. The adage is that “hindsight is 20/20” but who wants to keep looking back?
Okay, so – we agree that conflict is going to happen. Let’s examine some common types of conflict and how to engage peacefully … and walk away with our dignity.
The Blind Attack
Sometimes, someone comes out of nowhere and attacks us for no reason. This is totally unfair and can put us on the defense. Before you respond, you have a few options. First, consider the source. Is the person who’s attacking you deserving of a response? Internet bully’s and random rude citizens don’t really hold much value to our lives. Make it easy for yourself, block them. A response isn’t necessary. If you’re the victim of an attack from someone close to you, make the difficult decision to remove yourself from the situation. Again, a response isn’t always necessary. This doesn’t excuse their behavior or invalidate the hurt they caused. Instead, it allows you to exercise maturity and save yourself the headache of trying to get the last word.
What does the Bible say?
Matthew 5:38-39 says, “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” This passage tells us not to allow pride to take over the situation. Remember who you are and maintain your character. A person of strong character remains constant in every situation.
Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.” When someone we know and trusts fires at us for no reason, it can catch us off guard and make us want to strike back. This verse in Romans is clearly telling us that’s a bad idea. Trust that God has your back and don’t worry about looking like a push-over. More than likely that person is going through something and made the poor choice to lash out at you. Usually in these situations they will eventually regret their actions. Don’t keep replaying the offense in your head. Instead – remain kind, loving, and ready to forgive.
The Malicious Bully
There are people in this world who have nothing better to do than to constantly pick at others. They could be a co-worker, a boss, an acquaintance, or worse – a family member. Situations like these are downright discouraging because you can’t help but to be around these people. Try as you might to ignore their constant nagging but, sooner than later, it’ll get under your skin.
Before you retaliate, ask yourself a few questions: Will addressing the issue make the situation better or worse? Since childhood we’ve been taught to stand up for ourselves and never let anyone walk all over us. Although I generally agree; Sometimes it’s not necessary to put energy into someone who gets a kick out of their own ignorance.
Second question: Do you really have to be around this person? We don’t have to accept every invitation extended to us. If an innocent “middle-man” connects you to your bully, gracefully decline the invitation. If you choose to share your reasoning, just make it clear that you won’t resume socializing until that person stops their bad behavior.
What does the Bible say?
Proverbs 17:14 says, “Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before the dispute breaks out.” You may not start the arguments but confronting someone who loves drama is like throwing fuel on a fire. If you have no choice but to be around this person, be as cordial as possible and avoid engaging in any conversation that might incite an argument.
Matthew 5:11 says, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” When facing the person who just can’t get enough of harassing you, remember Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew. It can be difficult to be glad when someone is treating you badly but there’s always a price to pay for living your truth. Consider the ridicule a skin-thickening process and use the disappointment to strengthen your faith!
There’s a popular song by the O’Jay’s that says, “They smile in your face, all the time they wanna take your place, the back stabbers.”
Backstabbers, frenemies, two-faced, fake. Call em’ what you want – they all have two things in common: they’re contagious and toxic!
It can be hard to spot a fake friend. Some people are experts at concealing their intentions. One tell-tale trait of a two-faced phony is by the way she treats her other friends. We’ve all been guilty of gossip. But this person makes it a point to put nearly everyone down but never shares their own mistakes. Be careful! There’s a strong possibility that you are keeping bad company. Worse yet, these types of people want everyone around them to do the same. Don’t take the bait to engage in conversations that tear people down. That’s a seed that you don’t want to sow!
It’s very hurtful to discover that someone close to you has betrayed you. Of this, I can speak from experience. I’ve been on both sides: I’ve been the betrayed and the betrayer. The number one way to protect yourself is to constantly pray about your friendships. Pray for your friends and pray about your friends. Ask God to reveal and remove anyone that has bad intentions toward you. Trust me, He will. And when He does, don’t hesitate to distance yourself from that person. That might not mean you’ll continue your life as strangers, but you might not be as inclined to “hang-out”.
What does the Bible say?
Psalms 52:2-5 says, “All day long you plot destruction. You tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! But God will strike you down once and for all.” This passage may seem a little harsh but I think the message here is that God sees the heart and intentions of everyone around us, and, He can take care of it. The person described above is (just taking a wild guess here) probably not that great of a friend. John 9:31 says, “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.” No doubt this person needs your prayers but don’t hang that over their head. Let your prayers go ahead of you, and your words stay inside of you.
So how do we turn it all around?
Here’s 3 steps that I use to get myself back on track after conflict.
- Humble yourself (Matthew 23:12) – If you’re the person that caused an offense or said hurtful words, this isn’t a time to let pride take over. Don’t justify your actions. Be honest with yourself and everyone else.
- Apologize (James 5:16) – It’s time to face the music. Apologies aren’t just for little boys who are mean to their crushes. As adults, we should become experts in the art of apologizing. Why? Simply because we aren’t perfect. If you no longer have contact with the person you offended, earnestly pray that God heal the hurt you caused.
- Refuel (Proverbs 19:20)– Get back to who you want to be. Don’t dwell on the mistake. Spend time with God. Read your bible more. Pray more. Get around someone who will encourage you not judge you.
Then, keep living life!