by Erin Moore
All this from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation - 2 Corinthians 5:18,
Fights happen. It is just a fact of life that during the
course of all relationships, feelings are hurt, people are
offended and words are spoken that probably shouldn't have been
spoken. In most circumstances, we eventually desire, or should
desire to be reconciled (Matthew 4:23-24). How quickly and how
sincerely this is accomplished depends on our ability to forgive
and our true desire for reconciliation.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may
have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you"
"Love is patience, love is kind... it is not easily angered, it
keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:4,5).
The first and most important step for resolving an argument
involves analyzing that desire for reconciliation. Sometimes we
desire reconciliation only because the tension and discomfort of
being at odds with one another is really stressful. We wish to
remove the pain and frustration. However, while this is not
necessarily a bad reason to resolve a conflict, it should
definitely not be the only reason. Ask yourself, "Do I only want
to fix things because I can't stand the tension?"
As with every action, the most important motivation for
reconciliation should be love. Without love, your reconciliation
will only be shallow and temporary. Don't force an issue to be
resolved if you cannot put your love for that person above your
emotions. Take a moment to pray and cool off first. While your
feelings are important and definitely need to be expressed, they
should not dictate the way you resolve your conflict.
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and
all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but
have not love, I am nothing"
(1 Corinthians 13:2).
I want to discuss some of the most common ways people
resolve, or rather medicate, their conflicts.
Nonverbal communication usually involves a hug, a smile or
an act of service. The obvious upside of nonverbal conversation
is the quick removal of the awkwardness and tension of being mad
at one another. However, the downfall of this method is the issue
that caused the discord is never addressed. Neither person has
apologized or communicated their specific need, forgiveness or
repentance. This can cause the issue to resurface again and again
because the cause of the argument was never revealed or
discussed. This dooms the issue to continue a vicious cycle.
Granted, physical touch and body language is important in the
reconciliation process. It communicates love and humility and is
comforting and reassuring. It simply shouldn't be the only
You can also communicate forgiveness or repentance
indirectly by simply speaking of something else; in essence,
pretending the incident did not occur. This is probably the worst
way of resolving conflict because the actions insinuate that
everything is okay despite the fact that absolutely no
communication or discussion transpired. This leads to the
resurfacing of issues even more than nonverbal communication.
The most common verbal communication is simply saying, "I'm
sorry." It might be considered a step up from nonverbal
communication since the offender (although there is rarely, if
ever, one person 100% at fault for the discord in the
relationship) is audibly communicating their repentance which
does require at least a degree of humility. However, if "I'm
sorry" is all that is said, it can be compared to pouring a cup
of water into a gallon bucket you just emptied. They have
apologized, but if they made the person feel less valuable, loved
or cherished, that bucket has not been refilled. The offended may
never understand why they do not feel happy or loved again even
though they have forgiven the offender. In addition, the lack of
an instant return of happiness can communicate to the offender
that they are not truly forgiven, which may not be the case.
So then, what is the best way to reconcile? In my opinion,
it is what I call "discussion reconciliation." This, however,
cannot be accomplished if either party is in a highly emotional
state. It is important that the moving force of the resolution be
love, not simply removing the tension. With that preface in mind,
"discussion resolution" is simply what it says, discussion as
means of resolution.
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault,
just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won
your brother over" (Matthew 18:15).
Sit down on the couch with your spouse, friend or relative
(or find a quite room and grab a phone if necessary) and explain
how you felt and why when "x" happened, without accusations. If
you need to apologize, which both parties usually do, do so
humbly and sincerely. It is important you explain what you are
apologizing for, as well as communicating that you understand how
the other person feels. If you can, allow them to explain how
they felt first.
For example, Bob says to Jane, "it made me feel angry and
unloved yesterday when you called me a jerk. I know you expected
me to help you with the dishes but it never crossed my mind. I
apologize for not being more considerate, I will try to be more
helpful." And Jane says to Bob, "I'm sorry I called you a jerk
yesterday. It makes complete sense that you would feel angry and
unloved. I should have expressed my needs to you directly instead
of expecting you to read my mind. I will try to do that next
time." Then Jane might give Bob a hug and or a sweet smile to
confirm and reassure him of her love for him. It is important
both sides reciprocate and or initiate the nonverbal
communication so they both know they are loved and forgiven. So,
Bob might say, "Thank you," and return the hug and smile.
Obviously, the conversation doesn't have to be perfect. Real
reconciliation takes time, love and maturity, but the reward does
far outweigh the effort. Remember, don't ignore, don't smooth
over and don't summarize. Express your feelings and repentance
respectfully and in a loving manner, and you will find life is
all the sweeter.
Erin Moore writes from Missouri. All quotes from the Bible are
from the New International Version.
September 2007 "ACTS" magazine, a publication of the General
Church of God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID, USA
Erin wrote this as a young lady. Well done Erin, truth and wisdom
and maturity is not bound by our birth certificate age - Keith