Peace

3 Steps To Better Conflict Resolution

October 4, 2016
Tension knots needling my back and neck, I sat very still, unprepared for the anger hitting my ear. Hands hovering over my computer, fingers poised to end the scathing rant with one touch of a button, I had a decision to make.
The peaceful silence of the phone line had been disrupted by an angry customer, one transferred inappropriately from other areas of the company for which I’m employed. Not just once or twice.
Six. Different. Times. And even worse, I would need to make another transfer, fueling the fire of his injustice.
Immediately on guard as I came under attack, defensive responses bounced around in the recesses of my mind.
After all, it really wasn’t my problem.
Or…was it? I hadn’t caused the tangled web of confusion, but could I help unravel the painful mess?
A long exhale escaped parted lips and my hands relaxed, decision made. Dodging the spray of verbal fireworks, I sat back and listened.
Maybe you’ve been there too? Faced with the unexpected wrath of an angry countenance turned your way? If so, you know it’s not a pleasant experience.
As the object of this man’s tirade, desires to protest and claim innocence in the debacle rose up inside. But would that ease the tension? Not likely.
Finally, the ammunition seemed to run dry and the line went silent once again.
“I’m very sorry sir,” I responded feebly, voice low, as not to ignite another spark. “I agree. That should not have happened, and you should not have had to go through that. Again, I’m very sorry.”
It was a humble offering, and I honestly didn’t think it would be enough.
Until I heard it.
The long, low sigh filtering through the other end of the line, signaling a possible end to the battle.
All fight drained from his voice and he replied simply, “Thank you, ma’am.” A slight pause, and a few more words came. “You can transfer me now.”
The brief, heated exchange stayed with me long after duties of the day resumed. Even now, I contemplate questions stirred by the interaction.
In conflict, what if solving the problem isn’t always as important as acknowledging the struggle on the other side?
And what if knowing someone cares means more than having the right answer?
To be clear, I’m not referring to abuse or acts of violence, but rather those unpleasant disagreements that bubble to the surface on the job or in our relationships through the journey of everyday life. The ones where it’s tempting to have the last word or prove our own point.
While there may not be an exact formula for every situation, scripture outlines principles that will bring about better resolutions when we apply them.
Listen Well
Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19
To be honest, listening doesn’t always come easy for me, but I’m learning. At times, it’s necessary to give quiet consent for someone to vent frustration without jumping in too quickly to give my side of the story. In heated discussions, intentional silence may be the catalyst needed to alleviate the tension of struggle, even when it goes against the grain of everything we are feeling at the moment.
A Soft Answer
A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1
When we fuel a fire with more of the same, flames rise with little hope of burning out. But a gentle response may be the calm, cooling rain that deflects anger, initiating a turning point toward resolution.
Fresh Perspective
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3 
It’s often too late to change what has already happened, but in viewing the battle from a fresh perspective, can we recognize the pain on the other side? Stepping over the line for a few moments to filter life through the lens of another person may stir compassion to reach across the aisle and ease their burden.
As I reflect on these words and see them in black and white on a computer screen, I know they are much easier to speak than to live. When the next conflict arises, will I put them into practice? I don’t know. But I want to. And I’m guessing you do too.
As we continue this journey of life, what do you say we take time to pause when challenges arise? And remember, that in the face of adversity, a slow response is often more valuable than a quick reaction.

 

The Solution To An Overwhelmed Soul

July 10, 2016
The fragrant, warm summer evening brushed my senses as I ambled down the driveway, trying to unwind after a long day.
A day filled with the complexities of life pressing my soul.
Health concerns, financial needs and relationship conundrums. They were all there, buzzing around inside, the faint white noise of my mind.
Many questions. But few answers.
In spite of my whirling thoughts though, dusk slowly lured me into the stillness,  smells of freshly mown grass and sweet lemon blossoms a welcome distraction.
Fading rays of sunlight cast a golden glow over the yard and my gaze shifted up to see the neighbor’s silo silhouetted against shadows of a pink and gray sky.
In colorful array, the transition from light to dark showcased a beautiful portrait. One that depicted peace and tranquility. The scene drew me in and I wanted to absorb it. I wanted to tuck the calm into a corner of my heart and let it disband the storms of life.
Maybe you’ve been there too.
Longing for stability when the boat of life rocks to an unsteady rhythm.
Or searching for a slice of serenity on the tide of an ever changing world.
Standing there, on an ordinary weekday evening, facing many circumstances beyond my control, those were my thoughts too, when a verse of scripture niggled the edge of my conscience.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
A simple call to action.
But not always an easy one.
The truth penetrated my thoughts, because, to be honest, I don’t always walk in the peace that’s afforded me, especially when waves of uncertainty threaten.
How about you?
In the face of real struggles, it’s easy for nervous energy to spark around every corner. And so often, peace takes flight, like a snowbird heading south.
But you know what?
It doesn’t have to.
I continued my walk beneath the glow of a country sunset, pricked by that realization, the voice in my heart a gentle reminder that true peace doesn’t come from the absence of storms. It’s found in the One who calms the troubled sea.
The One who has the answers when you and I do not.
He’s calling us, ever so softly, to shift our focus beyond the darkness and trust Him, desiring that we tuck His solution deep inside when life brings a maze of the unsettled and the unknown.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
In a world of uncertainty, true peace is not measured by the size of our problems.It comes from above, defined by the One in whom we place our trust.
And God’s light shines through the tangled web of our trouble with an open invitation.
An invitation to simply lift the burden.
And meet Him in the stillness.
An invitation to find His reflection in the burst of an evening sky or hear His voice on the whisper of a summer breeze.
Without answers. Without solutions. Just in the beauty of knowing He is near. And that He cares.
In time, I believe the answers will come through trusting Him. Meanwhile though,  a beautiful opportunity awaits.
What do you say we respond to the call?

 

Psalm 61:2 “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”