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Confront Conflict with Courage

Confront Conflict with Courage

You 'can' respond to adversity in a God-honoring way.
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"If you marry him, I know you're just gonna take him for everything he's got and then drop him on one of our doorsteps!" My future husband's daughter-in-law Annie (not her real name) raised her voice in anger.

Seated by a window in a charming Greek restaurant, I felt the heat rise to the top of my head. I glanced around, grateful the restaurant hadn't yet filled. I was completely surprised by Annie's spiteful words, so I quickly prayed for guidance.

Remain quiet, God encouraged me. So I didn't say anything in response to Annie's accusation.

Annie's eyes flashed fire. "Your reaction isn't normal. I'm attacking you and you're not even fighting back."

"How would it help if I did?" I asked, as I thought of Jesus' example. Scripture tells us that Jesus "did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered" (1 Peter 2:23).

Annie was right. Refusing to respond to hostility in kind is not a normal response. But it is Christlike. I swallowed hard and prayed for grace. How could I glorify God in this situation where the hostility was thick enough to slice?

Conflict Is Unavoidable

In our fallen world, we all face conflict. It simmers between spouses and erupts in family relationships. It festers in long-term friendships. It seethes in the workplace.

I'd grown to love Annie's father-in-law who, like me, was widowed. Richard and I began seeing each other about nine months after his wife's passing. Now two years after her mother-in-law's death, Annie was still hostile.

For days after her attack, I was angry. Over lunch with a few friends, I shared the experience and described my anger over Richard's kids.

My friend Sara challenged me, saying, "I won't feel good about your relationship until you love Richard's kids."

That was a stretch. My mind was so filled with conflict, it was difficult to imagine. I asked God, Is that what you want, Lord? How can I love someone who treats me with such contempt?

"Even thought it's hard, I think you're right where God wants you," my friend Cathy told me. "You've always wanted to please everyone. Now you can't, and this situation will stretch you to understand where your worth really lies. You need to recognize—but not own—their feelings."

Conflict. I hate it! And too many times I've responded poorly when faced with it. I'd much rather avoid it. But in life there are times when we simply can't.

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Displaying 1–3 of 9 comments

Verna Hess

September 01, 2013  3:34pm

Many, many, many word of wisdom. Thank you for the message. Been there, done that. God is gracious, but sometimes when least expected I make a wrong step or a wrong word. Then live to regret it. I pray then God fills my heart with love. And He does and helps me understand there is a bigger picture. It helps to know there is something much bigger and greater, and it is possible to go on with life. Thank you for allowing me to share.

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Linda

January 16, 2013  4:10pm

Thank you so much for this article. My own d-i-l was raised quite differently, although she is a welcome addition to our family. In the beginning, because of assumptions and mistrusting each other, we nearly broke the nuclear family apart. Today I can honestly say I am blessed to have this terrific woman in our family. And she has given me 3 beautiful grandchildren!

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Ashlee

December 28, 2012  10:47pm

Thank you so much for your comment. I have been silently struggling with my husbands family who are really close and don't accept inlaws very well at all. They say very hurtful things and are outright bullies sometimes. We keep our distance to have healthy boundaries but even then someone's they get more nasty because they want us around but want to control us instead of being kind towards us. It's very hard and I've had a lot of anxiety and really do fear my time with them & conflict because they don't go about it in a way that's workable. So it's more about what I do and thank you for the reminder of where my worth comes from. It means so much to have them love me and get along but most of all my worth is from God & when they're unhappy with me or rude I can look to him. Nice to know we're not the only ones, and we can get through it too. So hard though, ESP bitterness & self protection. Question though: do you really allow all disrespect up until the point that it gets abusive?

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