I’m one of those who likes to avoid conflict at all costs. If necessary, I prefer a peaceful confrontation with a peaceful outcome. It takes time, figuring out the perfect way and time to say what needs to be said, and by then its usually too late. Problem is, when I wait too long, it comes out all wrong.
This happened a few weeks ago with some people I really love. Something happened that brought long-buried issues to surface, and…BAM! It needed to be said, but it didn’t exactly come out in calm, peaceful, eloquent way I would have wanted it to. The entire conflict lasted a short time, but it doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t handle it the right way.
In the midst of it, I learned that all loving relationships endure conflict at one time or another. The important thing is to take responsibility for our part. If we truly love each other, we’ll care enough to humble ourselves and admit where we were wrong. Here’s an excerpt from a letter I sent out to those involved, after taking responsibility for my part in the conflict…
What happens in one moment can affect a lifetime, and too often hurtful things are said and done in those moments that we wish we could take back. But what is done beyond those moments is equally important. What will we model through how we respond when conflict does arise (as it will in every relationship)? Will we say we’re sorry when we’re wrong? And will we forgive those who wronged us? Those examples will outlast everything else.
Since we can’t rewind tonight and start over, we have only a couple choices—to let this break our relationship or build it. How we respond in the long run will affect us more than tonight ever will. Again and again, I’m sorry for responding in the wrong way. I love you and value my relationship with you, and hope that one bad moment won’t destroy the countless good moments we’ve had together.
In an ideal world, we’d have no conflict. But we live in a broken world where conflict is unavoidable. It’s how we deal with it that matters. As for me, it’s humbling to admit there are times when I explode and have to pick up the pieces. But I’d rather take responsibility than pretend it never happened. I believe that storms can strengthen our relationships, if we respond in humility and love. If we care enough to rebuild what was broken, we may come out stronger than before.