Conflicts come from within, not from without.


Do you remember a time when you got it wrong in an argument? In second grade, I was knee deep in a verbal battle with Brian over whether Santa Claus was real or not. With great passion and zeal, I laid out all my reasons. Well, Santa Claus visited me every Christmas. I had stories and proof beyond a reasonable doubt of why I was right. I stormed home after school, pushing my mom into our laundry room, away from my younger siblings (just in case). I bluntly asked her if Santa was real or not, ready for her to confirm my point so I could proudly go back to class the next day to tell Brian how wrong he was. If the look in his eyes wasn’t enough, his response: “Are you sure you want to know the answer?” almost killed me instantly.

It was time to realize that I had been wrong all along. I don’t blame my nine-year-old for being ignorant – I was operating on the information I received. But I certainly wasn’t going to let my classmate Brian know that I was wrong. The conflict we shared now had much more to do with what was stirring inside me than with the words between us. I had shaken the bottle of conflict like a soda can until it overflowed from my pride in the subject, leaving me feeling like a fool. Maybe as adults we don’t discuss Kris Kringle, but when I often find myself in tense conversations with those who have different points of view than mine, it is sometimes a challenge to be nice about it.

“How can they be so [insert emotion here]?”
“How can they believe that? »
“Why don’t they understand it like me? »

A conflict is defined as a serious disagreement or argument. Where does the conflict start? Before they utter a word, before we do, before our brain forms an opinion, our lived experiences have installed something in our hearts that triggers an emotion. We operate with the information we have. Conflict isn’t always bad, but it’s almost never easy. Why? It forces us to slow down and react in a way that goes against what we feel deep inside. As James said, it’s easy to “commit murder” with our words on the battlefield of a subject we’re passionate about. It’s hard to stop and ask yourself, “What if they were right? It doesn’t feel natural – we feel justified in our ways. Sticks and stones can break bones, but words hurt too.

As I was writing this, I was waiting for this great takeaway idea that never came. Honestly, there are days when it’s really hard, and other days when I feel good knowing that I chose kindness over being right. So no matter what you discuss this week, remember that we are endowed with a grace that allows us to change our minds, slow down our words, and apologize when we are wrong (sorry, Brian).


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