The last few weeks have been a little crazy in my life. A lot has been going on at work and at church. And some of these things are changes and others have to do with walking through conflict. I HATE conflict. Always have and always will. But because we walk through life with other human beings and we all have different perspective, different baggage and different reactions conflict happens. Conflict is normal. Conflict can force us to see that people come to the table with different view points, backgrounds and thought process… and although these are different it doesn’t mean that any one is the RIGHT one.
In the church this is difficult because there has to be ONE Truth that is THE truth, right? Otherwise it would mean that there would be multiple ways to heaven and Jesus wouldn’t be THE Way. But if there is ONE truth then why is there conflict? There is conflict because although there is ONE Truth and ONE Way BUT this ONE Truth and ONE Way maybe expressed, interpreted and experienced in different ways. Because just as there is ONE Way, God made each of unique to reflect His different attributes.
Well this balance, this tension that we come across in conflict has been very evident in some interactions that I have had in the past couple of months. And I have been processing through the different experience that I have been having at a present level but also on a future level because someday I am going to be a leader, leading other leaders and I want to have the wisdom to navigate through conflict when it arises in a healthy and God honoring way.
I was faced with a conflict situation that seriously grieved me a few weeks ago. It weighed heavy upon me each day. I prayed and worked with leaders in my life to process through the conflict that was happened. And one night God brought me some clarity. One night as I was pondering upon the situation and praying I exclaimed to God that I just “didn’t understand.” I didn’t understand the reaction. I didn’t understand the words. I didn’t understand anything that had happened.
Now I have already said that conflict has to do with different people coming together in relationship bringing their baggage, their personalities, their thinking together. Right? Well, to understand my struggle you have to understand part of my personality. I don’t like to just know the surface of things. I don’t want to just know that someone is having a hard time I want to understand the depth that is underneath that hard time. What is the background? What has lead up to this point? What are the factors in their environment that affect their response? I don’t just take one sides viewpoint. I want to see all the angles and understand all the factors so that I can wisely approach and minister to the situation. If you talk to my family I was always the child asking “Why?” And not just in my twos and three but I remember well into high school when we would be watching the news or discussing something I would often stop my parents to ask what a certain word meant or ask why something affected something else. I wanted to be able to see the big picture not just my one piece.
And it didn’t occur to me until I was praying about this situation that I am still very much like that little girl who asked her family so many questions. I was having a hard time processing through what had happened because I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t see the whole picture so I didn’t understand why that was the response. I was having a hard time because I couldn’t empathize with the people in the conflict. And as I sought the Lord, He, as always, answered.
“That is because you never will understand Kaitlin. You will never experience what they have experienced. You will never hurt to the depth that they hurt. You will never process through in the way that they have. You will never respond the way that they have. You will never be where they are. So… you will never understand.”
It’s funny, isn’t it, that although God didn’t actually answer me, He did all at the same time. It was as though all of a sudden I could see. He gave me some understanding. He showed me that the depth that I had hurt was not to the same depth that they were hurting. He showed me that my response would never be their response AND that gave me empathy. To know that they had been so hurt and abused that their brokenness, even IN Christ, was still so painful… it brought me to my knees again. And I was able to understand. I might not be able to understand the why. I might never be able to take myself to the point to see what they see. But I can understand how far away from what I can image that they are that they must hurt so much… AND that God’s heart is to bring them even more into His presence, into His healing, and into His love.
And as I move forward learning about conflict and learning that Jesus can redeem and use conflict I must hold onto this… that Jesus is moving beyond the conflict. That although it looks as though it is a mountain that is impassable in the scripture it tells us that if we have faith we can tell a mountain to go into the depth of the sea and it will. So too with conflict. The truth is that if we fix our eyes on Jesus, on His love, healing, joy, comfort, peace and unity He can and will redeem even our deepest conflict.
And that brings me joy. And hope…. when it looks hopeless I can cling to the hope that is Jesus.