How do I approach conflict? When I was younger I had a tendency to ignore a conflict. I pretended it was not there and thought by doing so the conflict would magically disappear. I have come to find out that this is indeed not the case. The opposite happens: while ignoring a problem the conflict gets bigger and uglier. Based on this experience I have gotten into the habit of obsessing over conflict. I want a conflict resolution now, preferably yesterday. Obviously obsessing about it won’t help either. While there is such a thing as conflict resolution where both parties have to give and take (called a compromise), sometimes there are issues that won’t go away. How do I approach those issues? Embrace it, bite the bullet and simply accept the status quo? We all know the term “In a perfect world”, which is always to say this is no perfect world, and it is what it is. However, a lot of people find this fatalistic worldview quite hopeless and depressing, and I have to agree with them.
Dealing with the status quo the closing words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians has become an inspiration to me. With undying enthusiasm he basically says: Never stop dreaming! Think about the true, the right, the pure, the lovely, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise! This is a refreshingly different approach from either sticking my head in the sand or mulling over my problems. Instead of not wanting to see a problem or seeing nothing but a problem this approach is deliberately taking my eyes off my issues while doing two things:
#1 I notice God’s goodness in the world around me;
#2 I dream again and believe in the good things God holds in store.
God does His will using imperfect people. That is a great encouragement to me because I want His will be done in my life despite of my hang-ups. Here is where prayer comes in. Jesus taught us to pray, so we pray with Jesus: “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” And as we pray we want to be aware of the signs of His Kingdom already materializing – just as yeast materializes in the rising dough or a little mustard seed materializes in a growing tree. God’s Holy Spirit materializes in the hearts of His children and they rise up and see every day as an opportunity to grow, and with that God’s kingdom on earth grows. Can you see it?