If you’re a people pleaser like me, you’d probably rather eat bugs than employ confrontation as a healthy means to resolve a conflict. But sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.
Several things help me “cowboy up” and face a confrontation when there’s no other way out. One, I remember I’m not equipped to live in a minefield. I’m a pretty skilled dancer when it comes to tippy-toeing around difficult situations. But when I find myself feeling the pain of too many hours “en pointe,” I know it’s time to untie the laces, put on the shoes God’s issued with my full set of armor, and speak the truth in love.
Unresolved conflict casts a long shadow. It touches every area of my life. Until I confront the situation or person, I’m held prisoner by its looming presence. God never meant for me to live that way. Facing the conflict may be scary, but He has promised to be with me, strengthen me, and see me through to accomplish what He has called me to do.
Second, I remember confronting conflict is worth the risk. It’s true I need to pick my battles. Confronting someone over an annoying habit–like popping Juicy Fruit gum—isn’t worth risking a friendship over. But a conversation about something that vexes my spirit—like the constant badmouthing of another person or the spreading of gossip—makes the risk of confrontation worthwhile.
The apostle Paul once asked, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). That’s a hard question, but one true friendship can endure and bounce back from.
Third, I confront conflict immediately. If I wait too long after I’ve been upset or hurt by someone to confront the issue, I have a tendency to stuff the emotions, to forget the incident, and to hope the other person wasn’t really as upset and ugly as I remember them being. The problem is, the problem won’t be any easier to deal with later.
Don’t bottle the anger, frustration, hurt, and disappointment of conflict—letting it ferment like a bottle of champagne. We all know what happens when the cork finally pops. Instead, count to ten, take a deep breath, straighten your glasses, and, as calmly and unemotionally as possible, say what needs to be said right then and there.
Don’t choke on conflict. Confront it and clear the air.
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