When Your Attempt to Resolve Conflict Fails
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
Despite your best efforts to resolve conflict, sometimes the offended person will refuse your good intentions. Sadly, there are individuals who will carry animosity and bitterness to their graves. They will not forgive or forget.
When I was in the Navy, I made friends with a trumpet player from Detroit. One day on the band’s tour bus, we were joking and laughing — as usual. In the midst of our fun, I said something he didn’t like. From that moment on, he hated me. Vowed to beat me up. The animosity continued, but I’m happy to report the physical altercation he promised never took place. He rejected all attempts at conflict resolution, and he refused to forgive me.
Unresolved conflict is like the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane. It’s destructive, requires a long and difficult recovery, and there is always something left to remind you of the disaster.
On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi gulf coast. Five years later, Janet and I traveled to Biloxi for a beach trip. Through the window of a local restaurant, we saw wreckage that had yet to be removed from the beach. Five years had passed, but not everything was as it was before the storm.
Divorce is unresolved conflict. The courts final decree settles the matter legally, but hurt and anger often remain. Just seeing a former spouse can open old wounds. And if children were involved, a continued relationship is a necessity. When the kids grow up and the former spouses get together, it can feel like the reunion of the Hatfields and McCoys.
And there’s that sticky issue regarding child custody. Custody battles are often long, gruesome, and costly.
Inheritance issues lead to feuds within families. People who never had relationship issues can become bitter enemies as they fight over an estate settlement.
Friendships go bad. Co-workers stab you in the back. Gossips spread hurtful stories about you. People disrespect, offend, and treat you badly. And in many of these and similar scenarios, there is no conflict resolution. Hatred, bitterness, and hostility continues. So what do you do? When your attempts for conflict resolution have failed, what then?
Pray you’ve done your part to make things right. Pray for the others involved.
(2) take spiritual inventory
Ask the Lord to examine your heart. “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind…” (Psalm 26:2)
Have you been blinded by hurt feelings or bitterness? Have you sought to get to the root of the problem? What about your motives? Have they been pure and godly? Is this just about you, or have you carefully considered the other person’s feelings and rationale? Did you apply the golden rule? Jesus said, “…in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7:12)
(3) move on in faith
There comes a point when it’s time to shake the dust from your sandals and move on. (Matthew 10:14) When you’ve done everything you can to Biblically resolve a relationship conflict and your efforts are rejected, then you have fulfilled your spiritual obligation.
That’s not to say that God won’t one day heal the relationship. But for now, trust Him to help you get passed the hurt and on with a productive God-honoring life.
Why hold onto the hurts of the past when you can have positive expectations for your future? There will always be people who bring conflict into your life. But you have something better than their hurtful conniving and negativity. You have the love and power of Christ to help you, bless you, and keep you. God will “tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) Faith doesn’t look back, but anticipates the good that is to come.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Healing from a Broken Heart
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.