Ok, so we talked about conflict last week and how it is not something all of us like to engage in.
I wanted to bring in new friend and guest therapist for Putting the Pencil Down, Dr. David Adams for a little more insight into this ‘conflict thing’
Just so you know Dr. David isn’t just a therapist, he is a born again believer and follower of Jesus Christ, also has his MDIV (which means he went to school foreva to learn about the Bible) AND he has his doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
I mean how fun to have him with us today to discuss this thing called conflict!
My first question is: As humans why do we tend to struggle with conflict?
Dr. David: It is important to understand the source of conflict in understanding our struggle with it. James 4:1 states, “What causes quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your own desires?” It seems that when we have a conflict, at least one of the parties involved is likely focused on self. When this occurs, someone is likely to get hurt. When focused on self, we have a hard time focusing on the other person’s needs, values, expectations, and personal worth.
God created us for community, so when community and relationship is threatened (as we perceive it to be in conflict), we have an internal struggle.
Lindsay: Makes sense to me, that is why I don’t love conflict because I don’t want to get hurt and frankly I don’t want anyone else to hurt either. But God is also teaching me that I am not responsible for other people’s feelings (that is hard for me to learn)
Second, is there such a thing as “healthy conflict” and if so, what does it look like?
Dr. David: In responding to this question, I would like to say there are certain behaviors and communication patterns that are healthy in the midst of conflict. So, yes, one can be in conflict and respond with healthy behaviors.
Here are a few thoughts:
1. In conflict, it is important to focus on personal responsibility rather than focusing all your attention on the failures of others.
2. Seek to understand first, then seek to be understood. Too often, our focus is to be “heard” and we miss out on the perspective of the other person. If both parties involved in a conflict would seek to understand first, conflict will likely reduce.
3. The Scripture gives us some of the best advice for conflict. Be “Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen, and Slow to Anger- (James 1:19). When you practice these two behaviors (being slow to speak and quick to listen), it will lead to being slow to anger! (And thus slow to conflict).
4. It is possible to be angry and yet not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Injustice can cause anger, but even “injustice”, you can respond in a way in which God is glorified.
5. Above all else, forgive! This is the basis for reconciliation. After all, we are forgiven. Colossians 3:13 states, “….bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against each other, forgiving each other…” Now, this can be hard, but remember forgiving will lead to more healthy relationships.
Lindsay: David, this is SO good, right before I thought I was going to engage in some conflict last week, I “so happened” to just flip open my Bible app and saw a scripture on humility, I think that was God reminding me that humility will help to ease any conflict.
Third, if we are one of those people who really doesn’t love conflict, what should we do to find a healthier perspective of it?
Dr. David: Conflict is not enjoyable. In fact, if one enjoys conflict, there may be another problem. Often time we try to avoid conflict as a way to protect ourselves from being hurt. Ahh…so if we do not have conflict, we are less likely to get hurt. However, avoiding conflict only leads to greater problems.Realize that being able to resolve conflict is the only path to true intimacy. So my first encouragement for you is to understand the path of conflict leads us to greater intimacy with God and each other. Remember God’s promises! He will strengthen you to handle any situation, even conflict!
Secondly, depend on God in all things, even conflict. This means bathe the situation in prayer. Often times, prayer will change our heart and attitudes in the process as well.
Lindsay: David, I am also SO (yes in all cap) glad that I am not weird for not liking conflict, whew. And I agree as I talked about in my last blog on conflict, what I learned most was that with God I was able to do something I didn’t enjoy and was amazed at how He worked through me in it.
Finally, in your words, how did Jesus handle conflict? What can we learn from Him?
David: Jesus lived in conflict. The religious leaders were constantly watching him, talking about him in negative ways, and attempting to conspire against Him. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he quoted Scripture. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane (knowing he was about to be crucified), he isolated himself in order to pray! These are the two best strategies: prayer and bathe yourself in His Word. Also, Jesus was not just a passive person. He did stand up for what is right. You may recall how Jesus flipped over the tables of the individuals who were buying and selling in the Temple for their own profit (Matthew 21). He directly confronted the situation. So, in conflict, one of the best things you can do is to assert yourself in love. However, other times, he taught just to “Turn your cheek” if your rights are violated (Luke 6:29). All in all, I think we can learn that we should be less concerned about our “own rights” which is the source of conflict. However, if the rights of others are violated or God’s truth needs to be made know, we should stand up and assert ourselves in love and respect.
Lindsay: Thank you so much Dr. David.
I hope this provided some needed insight to all of you out there, it sure did me. We will absolutely be having Dr. David back to talk about some other issues us ‘little BELOVED dust people’ tend to have and what Psychology and the Bible (more importantly Jesus) say that it.
I was the girl who would run the other way, fast, to avoid conflict at all costs.
I recently had two different people in my life say “now Lindsay without candy coating it how do you really feel” they both actually used the words ‘candy coat’
I guess my recovering people pleasing tendencies coupled with my hate of conflict were ah, obvious?
Well, I have been learning lately that “fear” could once again be the culprit.
What do you fear about conflict?
It was: “feeling stupid, because what if I was wrong”
But then God reminded me that humility comes before honor, so just putting it out there in the beginning of the conversation that “I could be wrong” was actually acting in humility. (good to know)
I also had “fear of not being smart enough.” I had this fear that “they” knew more than me, that “they” are smarter than me. I had to ask God, “why do I feel that way” and a moment way back in elementary school came rushing back, when a kid on the playground told me I was stupid.
I had to forgive and move on, knowing that now I have the mind of Christ.
So we are all actually back on a level playing field.
And then I had a fear I would be taken advantage of. I felt I had to protect myself because no one else (including God) was going to take care of me. The feeling was REAL, it’s was very very real, but it’s still a lie. It’s NOT TRUE.
God says: “do not fear, for I am with you!”
I mean, He is God. If you believe like I do that He REALLY created the universe and we are little (LOVED) dust people, He really does know best and He really does say do not fear. ANYTHING.
So for me I had to break down my fear of conflict, my hate towards it.
Hate is rooted in fear, fear of something, but we often have to ask ourselves (and God), what about this do I fear?
Then we can deal with and pray about the real problem, instead of trying to figure out this ambiguous “feeling” that sometimes attaches itself to our identity.
Hi my name is Lindsay and I am just one of those people who hate conflict.
See the Bible says
Proverbs 23:7New American Standard Bible (NASB)
For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
If we think we are this or that, well we are.
It’s a crazy thing, our minds, but they are powerful.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11 New International Version (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
One of my weaknesses is conflict, that’s ok to admit, but that is not my identity, it is just something I need to lean HARD into God to overcome, but since Christ died for us, we are now OVERCOMERS in Him. It’s not always easy, but it is alway possible with God.
Let’s be careful what we say to ourselves and about ourselves, even in our own minds (those thoughts that we agree with in our minds, do they line of with Christ? if not THROW THEM OUT THE DOOR)
I once had a therapist (actually I have had lots of therapists) hee hee, they are helpful most of the time, but we also have Holy Spirit the TRUE counselor to check everything against.
My therapist once said to me “Lindsay, would you ever call those little kids that you volunteer with stupid?”
I said, “no never”
She said “then why do you call yourself stupid, you are hurting your own feelings”
I was like, WHHHHHHHHAT, this lady has a point.
Let’s do as God says, take EVERY thought captive, to the obedience of Christ.
He says that because He loves us. Not because He is trying to ruin our fun! He knows everything. We just don’t.
He is God, and we, are little loved dust people!
If God is our Creator, if He really did knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)
If we are truly fearfully and wonderfully made by Him (Psalm 139:13)
Do you think seeking Him might give us insight into who we really are, what our purpose is in life?
Do you think it might gives us understanding in our part in the great commission? Our purpose in the lives of others, our unique ability to love those around us?
The Bible says that our purpose is to reconcile God’s people back to Him through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18 New International Version
But what if He made us different for a reason, what if we each play a unique part in this puzzle, in this BIG epic LOVE story of God the Creator. What if we all have a slightly different way of doing it?
I often hear the enemy saying “Lindsay quit being selfish, quit thinking of yourself, you are a narcissist” I actually had to look up the definition for a narcissist last week and talk to a friend of mine about it because I wondered if I was one?
I am one who thinks and feels possibly a little too much! But I also think that is partly how I am made, so that I can feel for those who maybe can’t feel for themselves, so that I can carry their burdens to the Lord, so that I can believe and trust in faith for them when they can’t for themselves.
We are all created beings and our Creator is the One who knows just how He uniquely created us, the Bible says He knows every hair on our head, they are actually numbered Luke 12:7. That uniqueness (that the enemy may want to throw in your face or twist to be a bad thing) is actually your gift to the world from your Heavenly Father. I think by seeking Him, we just might find our purpose in how to bring Him glory and how to bring others to Him, for redemption, healing, hope and reconciliation.
Sometimes we can feel this guilt, shame and pressure to save the world and to stop thinking about ourselves. But what if by seeking God, we find more of who He created us to be? More of how we were created to love and help others, therefore when it is our time to step into what God has for us to accomplish, we are lined up exactly in His will and with His power and in His love to literally change the world or the world around us.
I had this funny thought come to me as I was on the Toy Story ride this weekend at Disneyland. I was on this ride by myself (my friends were in the car behind me) and we were playing a game where you would shoot at these targets in 3D and got points. As I was playing I thought to myself, “gosh I am doing so good and this is so fun,” I could feel the confidence rise up in me “I am pretty good, I can’t believe it. I didn’t think I would be good at this.” I had 39,000 points “that’s so awesome”, I thought! Well until I looked beside me and saw the person next me had 129,000 points, I suddenly realized I wasn’t doing squat. I then felt the Lord show me that it was very similar in life. If we could just go about our life, our ministry the Lord has given us no matter how big or how small, we might be way more effective and confident rather than looking at those around us and thinking “oh crap I am not doing squat”.
I know random thoughts from Lindsay, but you know I write from my own experiences and this week I am headed out to spend some intentional time with our Father, to seek Him to see what He might be saying, what He might have next. The adventure with Him is not always without wobbly legs, but His love is powerful so let’s let Him love us, teach us, show us who He created us to be and how we might play our part in His big epic LOVE story!
He loves you, let Him love you!
He is a good God, and He wants your attention on Him, then He will be able to lead you, when you are watching where He is going.
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