Monday, November 12, 2012

Understanding Conflict

I have learned to pick my battles . . . when to keep my mouth shut. Last week I was describing, in a group setting, how Jay changed my attitude the day after the election (see my post "A True Spiritual Leader").  Now, when I am encouraged to participate in a discussion, I am assuming my opinion and thoughts are invited. In no way was I trying to be political, just explaining how Jay brightened my outlook. But, it was misconstrued to be as such. I was quite surprised when the gentleman responding began with, "Obama is a good man." This is the part where I have learned to keep my thoughts to myself.  A comment like this coming out of a Catholic man's mouth would have sent the old Bonnie into a verbal dispute explaining that while President Obama is a child of God, many of the ideas and policies he promotes are in direct opposition to our Catholic faith.  I chose not to respond. As Jay and I were driving back to my house, he said he knew that comment upset me . . . he could tell by my body language. Understanding conflict, knowing when to respond (and when not to respond) is key in always shining His light. Just because someone has not understood us completely, it doesn't mean we let them dull our shine!

Friday's Gospel (John 2:13-22) shows Jesus making a statement in regard to taking our Father and our Church seriously:

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.' At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Whispers From the Cross, she describes why anger is not the answer when conflict arises:

"The holiest and most pure relationships will include misunderstanding and conflict while the people involved serve in exile from heaven. There are close relationships and not-so-close relationships. It is important to Jesus that we discuss conflict because there is no need for misunderstanding or conflict to result in behavior that is not consistent with Christ’s example as seen in Holy Scripture. How did Jesus behave when there was conflict? He spoke few words but they were true words. It is best, in the area of conflict, if we spend time going through a situation of difficulty in the presence of Jesus and conclude on a holy course of action. Anger makes this even more necessary because anger leads to the enemy’s plan. People love to talk about righteous anger and so often refer to the Lord’s behavior in the temple. We like to convince ourselves that our anger is righteous. I am equally convinced that rarely will our anger be righteous. More often it will be plain old self-indulgent anger which is symptomatic of pride. I speak as an experienced person, not an observer, and I can assure the reader that Jesus would like us to avoid acting in anger whenever possible. Humility allows for wounds. This is partially why humility is so important. If a person is humble, he will be willing to say, 'I am hurt.' When we admit something has hurt us, we can steer away from anger and take things calmly, acting with Christ to deal with any misfires in the relationships around us. This calm course will help us to remain an asset to heaven as opposed to a liability."

Lay apostles, understand the conflict occurring in your life and assess if you are staying focused on Christ. When you feel yourself moved toward anger, humility is more likely the proper response Jesus asks of us. 

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to remain calm when my human emotions may signal otherwise. Continue to keep my focus on building the Kingdom and that others may see You in me.

God bless,

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