Make-Up-Monday: Conflict Can Help You Grow

by Merritt on July 2, 2012

Over the last two weeks I’ve shared some key points from a sermon by our former pastor.

Read Part 1 about How conflict can glorify God.

Read Part 2 about How conflict is an opportunity to serve others.

Today is Part 3 – Conflict is an opportunity for you to grow.

Yes, conflict can be painful. And so is growth. In fact, if we’re paying attention, our willingness to engage in conflict will most certainly bring to light new information about our sin. Ouch!

I used to view conflict as someone else’s problem. As in, the other person has a problem and it is bothering me! It wasn’t until I made friends who were willing to tell me the truth about what they saw in me that I began to realize I had problems of my own, and those problems were likely bothering others!

Marriage has often been called a mirror in which we see ourselves for who we really are. The everyday-ness, the constant companionship, the inability to find a mask that will stay on 24/7. That’s what marriage stealthily provides. And when our ugliness rears its head, someone we love, someone we chose to spend our life with, suffers the brunt of it.

In his sermon, Wagner mentioned Martin Luther who said he’d learned more about himself in marriage than the monastery. Though I have never spent time in a monastery, I think I would agree. {Not sure where to attribute Wagner’s statement, but this Martin Luther biography might be able to elaborate if you’re interested.}

There’s no question I’ve had more conflict in marriage than any relationship in my life. The good news is, by taking conflict as an opportunity rather than a curse we have grown through it. Conflict is now one of the tools God uses to refine us and even strengthen our marriage.

Our ability to learn and grow from conflict is all about what we do with it. We can stay or we can go. But rather than think of conflict like school where we begrudgingly {some of us} learn things we don’t care to know, I suggest we think of it like a garden where toil and struggle, sweat and labor, sun {the heat of our emotions} and water {forgiveness and grace} give way to a beautiful harvest of goodness {healing and growth}.

I don’t have a specific example of a conflict from the past week, but I can say marriage has taught me that, in my flesh, I am selfish, prideful, unkind and controlling. Thankfully BECAUSE of marriage and the conflict that has ensued, I’m more aware of these issues and have learned how to spot them a little further off before they, uh-um, hit the fan. And when I miss it, marriage has also helped me grow in my ability to apologize and say, “Will you forgive me for {fill in the blank}.”

When we come to conflict with a desire to grow, a forgiving heart, a willingness to hear the other person and humility about ourselves, our fears are usually just that—fears. Thankfully, I’m not as blind as I once was. And I’m not as afraid to hear the truth. In fact, these days I want to know what others see in me that I don’t see. And, as the one closest to me, the Husband has the “privilege” of pointing some of those things out. But my awareness of my tendency to sin against him and my willingness to own it and speak it {and his as well} have grown us in our trust for one another and the strength of our marriage.

What about you? Has conflict produced opportunities for growth in your life?

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