We all have conflict in our lives. As children we had it when we were learning the difficult lessons of social issues, and as adults we have it thinking that we have successfully learned from those lessons as children! The conflict itself doesn’t go, it’s just the way that we deal with it that changes. We’re all different, and we often see things from a different perspective, and hence we inevitably will find conflict. As a child we get hurt, or someone hurts our feelings, and we react as such. As an adult we may learn to try and control our responses we had as a child, but we also find other harmful (I think more harmful) ways of dealing with conflict, such as suppression disguised as control; that is me.
In prayer today I was shown (well, reminded) of how much conflict I not only try to avoid and control of my own, but how much I try to be that ‘negotiator’ and control conflict for others. Perhaps it’s for a friend, co-worker, family, or child, but I have this natural instinct to want to resolve it. I think in many ways it can be helpful, but much like my own conflict, I often don’t try to resolve it, I try to suppress it. That’s when my anxiety sets in; it’s my resident thorn.
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
Like Paul, I have asked for this thorn to be removed, however it is this thorn that keeps reminding me that I have absolutely no control over this. That peace through all this doesn’t come from my ability to control, but from my ability to surrender. I prayerfully do my part, I prayerfully talk, listen, and encourage not only myself but others. I hope I can be a godly counsel to others when they come to me with conflict in their life, but ultimately it’s not my burden. My burden is to take up my cross, every day, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). That cross is not made up of baggage from others, or even myself, that’s for Him to carry.
Lord, please continue to remind me that Your peace comes from my surrender to You, not my handle or control on a situation. Encouraging and helping not only myself but others, while still knowing that You are sovereign and fully in control needs to be my focus. Conflict resolution doesn’t come through myself and my work, it comes through You.