We live in a web of interconnected relationships.
Relationships with significant others. Relationships with co-workers. Relationships with friends. Relationships with family.
In the unavoidability of relationships, there is conflict.
Conflict with significant others. Conflict with co-workers. Conflict with friends. Conflict with family.
With conflict comes tension, and tension demands a response.
The problem is, our tendency is to either run from giving a response (“What’s the point of working this out with him? I’m just going to shut up–again–and bury it deep down inside.”), or run too quickly to respond (“I just can’t wait to give her a piece of my mind! She is such an idiot!”).
In both cases, we fall short.
In the world’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships (defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness, self-righteousness, anger and blame), we inflict upon ourselves a slow death by a million paper-cuts.
Paper cuts from significant others. Paper cuts from co-workers. Paper cuts from friends. Paper cuts from family.
If all of this bleeding is inevitable, why even bother with relationships? After all, isn’t life too short? Too short to be jabbed time and again by a million paper-cuts?
Because in relationships, there is life.
Because in relationships, there is love.
Because in relationships, there is growth.
Because in relationships, there is God.
In God’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships, you still have to confront and respond to tension and conflict. After all, tension and conflict are natural by-products of living in earthly relationships.
But in God’s way of responding to tension and conflict, you confront and respond:
• without condemning
• with love and respect
• through the eyes of faith
The eyes of faith can’t see the other’s faults and weaknesses. The eyes of faith can only see what God sees. And all God sees is a child of God, worthy of love and respect, brimming with all of God’s potential and righteousness.
Delve into relationships. Delve into the tension. Delve into the conflict.
But in all things, delve in with God.
For where there is God, there is life, love and growth. For where there is God, there is relationship.
Delve in. Paper cuts and all.
When you last confronted tension and conflict in your relationship, how did you respond? In anger and blame? Or, love and respect? When you last responded to tension and conflict, was it in sorrow and repentance, or defensiveness and passive-aggressiveness? Are too many of your relationships simmering in past regrets, rather than restoration and healing? What could you have done differently in your last experience with tension and conflict?
2 Corinthians 7: 2-16 (The Message):
…Don’t think I’m finding fault with you. I told you earlier that I’m with you all the way, no matter what. I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles…
I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out…Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great…
Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you…