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Resolving Conflict...For Life

Resolving Conflict...For Life

Resolving Conflict...For Life

Maybe it’s just my house, but 2015 has started with quite a bit more conflict than I would like to admit. Conflict between adults, conflict between siblings, conflict between parents and children. I’ve had ample opportunity to consider what is truly happening when we, in family, fight. 

When my kids argue, I tend to draw the quickest line from bickering to judicial resolution. I’m quick to call order with the gavel, and solve the issue with a definitive redistribution of toys, separation of offenders, and a call to cease and desist. Everyone has an explanation for why there’s conflict, and the reason is never themselves. 

Have you ever noticed: When we ask our kids what the problem is, in the midst of conflict, no one ever says, “The problem in this situation is my selfish pride.” It’s not so different from conflict between parents either. After all, my kids are learning how to handle conflict by watching me.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21)

But, lately, I’ve been laboring to lay down both my sword and my gavel — my rights as contender or judge — and to consider how often I treat the words I use in conflict as leverage, and not as conduits.

I read these words by Paul David Tripp, and was convicted:

“The words you speak aren't neutral - they're either moving your relationships towards life or moving your relationships towards death.” 

Defending my case, explaining my point of view, and discerning the truth may all be part of problem-solving, but until I recognize that my words can be, themselves, the problem, I’m not really being a conduit of change. 

And for those of us who aren’t so verbal, the movement toward life or toward death doesn’t have to require actual words. Consider what Karen Ehman says:

…if you’re not the explosive type, there is equal opportunity for sin in letting angry feelings ice over into a wall of bitterness and resentment.
— Karen Ehman, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

Again…there’s a direction to our words and body language. The things we communicate are never neutral. We are choosing to use them to further our relationships in life or death.

And so, as little battles and wars continue to wage in our household of 8, we are realigning our minds with the true goal of conflict resolution: It is not simply peace we are attempting to secure; it is LIFE. 

How can you seek to speak words of life in your family today? 

Because of grace,

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