Can any Good come out of conflicts?

Not all conflicts can be avoided. They seem to be a given of our human condition, and given the pressures in say matters financial, there is likely to be an increase rather than a decrease of wounded hearts.

I’ve been thinking of a little talk that I wanted to have with my own grown children on the subject and I think I’ll post the essence of it here and invite you to listen in. Attitude they say is the key to a lot of things in life and I really think that is the beginning of harvesting good out of the conflicts that we can’t avoid. So whether we’re thinking of conflicts in our professions, in our families and neighborhoods, or even in our faith communities, what I’m thinking of just now will probably apply.

Where do all these conflicts usually come from? Don’t they all come from something we do or say in the hearing of those we are in community with? And doesn’t it always involve hurting or being hurt by oneanother?  I am not thinking now of conflict resolution but in the attitude we should have about conflict in the first place if we are to be able to receive the “silver-lining” of even the worse situation.

If we really learned this, we could see a lot of conflict coming and be prepared to make the best of it. I have learned so much from my wife and children about this whole human activity. I learned not to get in a shouting conflict with the one I adore, complaining about something she has said or even some little thing she does that offends me for the simple reason that once I started I knew she could always pull out her list about me and then we would really be in for it.

And here’s the point: even with the ones we love the most we have to expect and be prepared to handle the C word-conflict. In fact it is very logical once we think it through: the ones we love the most are exactly the ones who know us best, and that includes our weaknesses or our vulnerabilities which is what allows them to hurt or offend us more deeply. In our relationships, the closer we have been, the more we have let the other know us, our hopes and dreams, the more we have exposed ourselves to real hurt and the more likely we are to hurt the other without even knowing it.

There is a simple solution if we are ready to agree that the conflicts are usually fueled by trying to defend ourselves, by avoiding a direct hit on our self image by defending and or retalliating. Chances are we would diffuse a lot of conflicts by not reacting in this way but rather deliberately choosing to take a hit, to suffer even a loss financially and get on with the positive things of living.

So what I want to say to those that love me, conflicts are inevitable simply because we are both involved in the human condition, and even more so because we know oneanother so well. So we will minimize the conflict by not wearing our feelings on our sleeves-out where they can be so sensitive and easily hurt. Then we will Know that because we love oneanother, and respect oneanother, we will spend our energies on seeking the good fruits that peacemaking brings to all.

Respect oneanother. Treat oneanother with dignity. Listen carefully to oneanother tell you what they really mean, how they really feel. Seek peace and unity even when it seems to fly away from you. Remove the hurt from the conflicts and the good will come flowing in to replace it. Shalom. Salaam.Paz.

Can your faith do this for you : supply you each day with a deep sense of well-being, a sense of being content with yourself and your surroundings?

The Christian Faith defined as the Life of Christ himself indwelling the Church, which is his Body, has this quality as expressed so well by the Apostle Paul when he wrote-

I Have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content! (letter from prison to the Philippian Church)

The most logical question that comes to mind is, “How did Paul learn this beautiful art of living?” For him it was a major and necessary part of his faith in Jesus, the Christ, for he speaks of this in his other letters. For instance, he tells Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain“. And he tells us that this had to be learned. If Paul had to learn it, who was his teacher? He was trained under the famous Rabbi, Gamaliel, a leading authority in the Sanhedrin; did he learn the art of contentment from this teacher of Israel in the Jewish Scriptures?

I’m leaving you with this question to ponder before giving you Paul’s own answer, found in another one of his letters from prison. Think with me for a few days just how desirable this quality in life is to actually possess and then meditate on how you believe in your own situation you can learn this art, this habitual practice as part of your daily routine. Through out the history of the Church there have been examples of those in prison for their faith that have also demonstrated this contentment and calm. If you are familiar with the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor/professor imprisoned under the Nazi regime in WWII, and later put to death just before the end of the war, then you will know something of the beauty and worth of this quality in a person’s life under the most difficult of circumstances.

Read a classic on-line: The Art of Divine Contentment by Watson