Real Friends Need Only Apply – Part II

“To be involved in a relationship that never involves an argument – authentic or superficial?”

Last time we talked about two specific characteristics that one is blessed to find in a relationship. Today I want to talk about one more area of blessing that is given in relationships:  The gift of Godly conflict.

I’m a peacemaker.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I would rather bake brownies and give them to someone who is upset with me or whom I’m upset with than talk about the why behind the tension.  I hate conflict, I hate tension, I hate fighting.  However, recently I’m beginning to realize the validity and purpose behind having Godly conflict.  I’m not talking about temper tantrums, silent treatment, or withdrawing. (I know firsthand about all those methods of not communicating and trust me, they don’t work.)

I’m talking about inviting God into our relationships and asking Him to help us respond selflessly instead of selfishly for the good of the relationship itself. What exactly does it mean to fight selflessly?  One example would be instead of forcing the other to hear and agree with your reasoning, to be silent and listen, really listen to what is being said behind the words.

Is it hard? Yes.  Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely.  Will it take time and sometimes have to be revisited more than once until an agreement is reached? Possibly. Is it easier to ignore problems and hot buttons? Maybe…at first.  But if we want to have a real relationship with another, whether friend, spouse, child, parent, coworker, then eventually we have to choose to walk the path of conflict from God’s viewpoint.

I’ve found for myself, I usually complain about a symptom because I’m too afraid to address the true cause.  I might find the courage to open up about the real problem after I’ve had favorable response to the original complaint, but I’ll usually test the waters with a symptom of the problem first. When we consciously make the decision to see the other person through God’s eyes instead of forcing that person to validate our own needs and wants, it begins to move our relationships from superficial toward authentic, which is what God designed us to crave, especially as women.

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While I’m not advocating being a doormat, sometimes it’s best to let God fight for us instead getting in the last word.  As we talked about previously, God is the only One who can change hearts and behaviors permanently.  We can debate, cajole, bribe, or try and convince another, but God is the One who ultimately will change someone’s heart, attitude, and eventually behaviors and actions.

Just as it’s difficult for a peacemaker to bring up uncomfortable topics, it’s equally as hard for a “fighter” to argue fairly.  However, when we choose to combine the encouragement and acceptance of differences we talked about last time with God’s view of selflessly confronting issues only for the greater good of the relationship (not for selfish reasons), it just might move the relationship you are in to a new level of authenticity.

While I’m not advocating fighting for fighting’s sake, I want to encourage those who prefer to sweep issues under the rug instead of dealing with them.  Conflict, when bathed in prayer, selflessly instead of selfishly, listening more than speaking, can bring about a deeper level to the relationship and a new ally.

When done appropriately, conflict is healthy to a relationship.  Because in reality, if two people call themselves friends but never disagree about anything, is the relationship real?  No two people are so alike that they agree on everything.  Learning how to disagree in a healthy relationship is great practice for getting along with so many different personalities throughout life in so many different situations.  A little healthy conflict, when done appropriately, can be a good thing.

So, if you’re friends with me and we have healthy conflict from time to time, I just might say, “Yay – finally!”  I’m not weird. I’m just glad our friendship is strong enough to be taken to the next level.

© Cheri Swalwell 2014

 

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