A few years ago, I was "coaching" a PE class at school. We were playing a spirited game of lacrosse and one of the students called me a cheater. I got mad, checked to make sure I wasn't cheating, and then proceeded to argue most heatedly with the student. Both of us apologized for our hasty reactions to one another, and the matter was resolved within a matter of minutes.
A year later, the same young man was a student in my humanities class. We had an excellent rapport, and were even able to disagree without digressing into quarreling. He was one of my favorite students that year.
On another occassion, a different student got miffed about something I said in class and began yelling at me. Again, an argument began, but I stopped us before we could escalate to full quarreling, and we stepped into the stairwell to have a discussion. I don't remember why the student was angry, but I do remember that we resolved it. He apologized for flairing up at me in class and I apologized for whatever it was I said or did.
We never had that sort of conflict again. Did we always agree thereafter? No. But we had gained an understanding of each other through the conflict and we were able to disagree peacefully.
Last Friday I mentioned that my brother and I had some conflict over what I wrote in a blog post. The disagreement led to discussion which led to peace between us, a peace that can handle further conflict and likely lead to greater resolution and thus greater understanding of one another in the future.
Here's my observation: conflict can usually be resolved when people speak to one another. Likewise, resolved conflict can lead to greater communion between people. This is obvious, I know, and yet so many of us avoid disagreement and discussion--or resolving it--because we're afraid of the possible results. Or worse, we're just angry or bitter and would rather stew in that than resolve our differences.
But clearly this isn't best for us. Forgiveness and resolution are. I'm not going to claim that all of my conflicts have ended in greater communion with the conflicting party. But I will say that most of the time they have. It takes time and talk, but usually the result is good, whether I was the offending party or not. Usually, a brother is gained.
How's your conflict resolution? Have you seen similar results?
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother." ~ Matthew 18:15