I used to go hide in the bathroom when I needed to cry at school. It wasn’t often but I thought you had to be strong. I didn’t want people to see me cry. I hated conflict. I am sensitive. I hate seeing people angry at one another. I hate people being angry with me. I had not seen conflict modeled well. Anger was often explosive from one party or passive aggressive from another. So my way of dealing with it was to avoid it. Lots of tears in private, but never addressing the party who hurt me.
Then I arrived at university and I was told one of the wisest things ever that has changed the way I have dealt with conflict since.
“Christy conflict is neutral! It is not bad, it is not good. You need to deal with this.”
Conflict is not bad. It is not good. It happens because we are in a fallen world with sinful people. Avoiding it does not make it go away. Addressing conflict does not have to equal screaming and shouting. It is also not avoiding it and pretending like you didn’t hurt someone, or they didn’t hurt you, or nothing ever happened.
When. It. Did.
How has that changed me?
Those relationships that were broken, that were hurting me back then, I addressed all of the issues with the related parties. There was no screaming. There was honesty. There was taking responsibility for my sin. There was exposing my vulnerabilities saying “when this happened, it hurt me or it said this to me.” “When you shouted at me, I felt devastated and worthless.” I know what you’re thinking…
I feel statements sound ridiculous. But they work.
They dispel anger.
And ALL of those relationships were mended. I am still friends with the three people I had to have those conversations with. A decade later.
It has been a practice I have carried with me in my life to address conflict rather than avoid it and I have not regretted it ever. I am still grateful for Denise’s rebuke of a fraidy cat college student who would rather bury her head in the sand and cry than address pain and brokenness in relationships. It has saved me many friendships. And I have passed along that life lesson to many many people..
You are reading my Series. The top life lessons I have learned in the last 30 years. It’s a bit late but hope you enjoy as I continue along.. and if you have missed one.. Catch up below! Or subscribe so you can have them delivered to your inbox!
#10 Pursue People
#9 How can I know I’ll go to heaven? Assurance.
#8C Our Rights: A Secondary Rant from the NYTimes
#8b God does not owe us a pain free life
#8 Our Rights: Killing the Cultural Entitlement Chip
#6 The Myth of Good People
#5 The Shape of a Worldview
#2 Love People