It is often easy to run from conflict that we have with others where confrontation could result in further angst. Good and well-meaning people often find it incredibly difficult to address issues and might prefer easy retreat to tough redress. As attractive as this might sound, it sidesteps the problems, avoids personal responsibility and almost ensures that issues will simply crop up in other settings or with other people.
It is greatly rewarding and enriching, especially in community life and in teams, to work through issues and to grow through the process. More talk, and not less, gives greater understanding of others and builds respect. We might often feel that we don’t have time for talk, but making time actually saves it later (“a stitch in time saves nine…”). Talking, then, demonstrates a commitment to change and it best identifies areas needing focus.
Remembering to confront an issue with humility and a solution-focused desire for resolution, it is vital to describe feelings and personal perceptions, as if we could perhaps be wrong. “When you…I feel….because” statements keep people from paying out on others. They are forced to identify their own concerns in areas of their life that intersect with others. When this has been tried and found wanting, then it is probably necessary to seek impartial mediation so that a third person is not taking sides but helping the two parties to speak more accurately to each other.
At the end of the day, we can choose our friends, but we’re stuck with our family. And if we commit to people as family then we commit to working the problems through. We commit to praying for them, encouraging them, wanting the best for them, even needing them, and without expectation of return. Greatness comes from turning life’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones for forward progress.