Conflict is everywhere. It’s inevitable.
I was reading today about how you respond to someone in the midst of conflict will either bring you closer with that person or drive you apart. Well . . . yeah. But think about it. How you respond in that heated moment can possibly change the course of your relationship with that person forever. Is it worth it?
Let’s look at it a little deeper, though. As I was reading this, God immediately showed me something even more important than possibly losing a relationship. He showed me that how I respond in that moment of conflict either brings me closer to him or adds space between us. Wow! Somehow that hadn’t registered with me before. It’s not even about your relationship with the other person. Although that’s important, it’s about your relationship with God.
Do you find yourself becoming easily angered? Do you quickly react (negatively) during conflict? Think about the past month alone. Think about how many times you became angry or acted out in anger because you were wronged or offended. Now, picture you and God holding hands while carrying on a conversation. Now, imagine taking 1 giant step backward each time you were angry and reacted on it last month. How far are you from him? How easy is it to carry on that conversation? He likely can’t give you a hug or gentle embrace to comfort you if you’ve moved more than 1 step away. Now, think about how far that space would be after 1 year, 2 years . . . a lifetime.
God never steps away from you. No matter what, he never leaves. It’s in our choices that we find space between us. How much space is between the two of you? How do you find yourself responding in the midst of conflict? Might they be a reflection of one another?
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love makes up for all offenses.” We are to cover the situation in love rather than anger. The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), so that means we need God in order to truly love, especially during moments that are anything but loving.
If we are supposed to respond in love rather than anger, then how easy will that be when there’s already so much space between you and God? It can become a vicious cycle. You respond in anger, you add more distance from God. The more distance from God, the more difficult it is to respond in love.
There’s good news, though!
Recently, I found myself getting agitated and angry toward nearly everything and everyone. I would even try to write, but I found I couldn’t write more than a sentence or two because it seemed forced. I didn’t know what was going on. I was miserable, and I feel certain the people around me were too.
I prayed asking God to help me figure out why I wasn’t feeling like I was in his presence anymore, and he reminded me of how I’ve been responding to people in certain situations. He showed me that with each moment of conflict, I’ve not chosen wisely, and I’ve added space between us. He never moved. He also showed me how over time it became even easier to quickly respond out of anger because I had moved so far away.
God is just so amazing, though. He defies the logic that says if it took 1 year of moving farther and farther away, it will take 1 year to get back into his presence. You see, he stands where you left him. He doesn’t move. He’s still talking to you, but it’s harder to hear when you’re so far away. He is still reaching out to embrace you, but he can’t reach when you keep stepping away.
But, when you realize what you’ve been doing, and you ask God to help get you back into his presence as you take that first step toward him, he does something incredible. It’s in that moment that he moves from where you left him, and he doesn’t slowly walk, but he runs to meet you for that much awaited embrace. He holds you and reminds you what it feels like to be covered in love, and it pours over allowing you to cover others in love, even in the midst of conflict.
Think about that space between you and God. Do you need to re-evaluate the direction you’ve been walking? Do you feel like you aren’t feeling his presence? Ask him to reveal to you what is causing the space, and all you have to do is start walking back toward him. You’ll find he runs much faster than we can, and you’ll be surrounded by his love and joy in no time. Try it. You have absolutely nothing to lose.