Make-Up-Monday: Serving Others in Conflict

by Merritt on June 25, 2012

I mentioned last week that I would be posting (one-at-a-time) the three points from our former pastor’s sermon on conflict. Today’s post is Part 2. You can read part one in the link below.

Last week was about how conflict can glorify God.

Today is about how conflict is an opportunity to serve others. Hmm…really? How often do I see it that way? Not often. If my feelings {or my pride} are hurt I don’t always see conflict as a way to serve someone else. Usually it’s about serving me.

But when I remember that relationships {and especially my marriage} are not about me or my happiness but about pointing me to Christ, it’s a little easier to think about it that way.

Our pastor talked about “living together on purpose in companionship, grace and mercy.” When we walk according to the spirit of man {in our flesh, as I referenced above}, conflict will come. But rather than avoiding, escalating, withdrawing, negatively interpreting or invalidating we have a choice to bear one another burdens. To stick around. To speak honestly. To share how we feel. And give grace to the one who caused harm. Because the truth is, we are ALL guilty of causing harm to others. We have ALL fallen short.

And this is true especially in marital conflict. We have the opportunity to serve our spouse by working through conflict to the best of our ability. We don’t leave. We don’t slam the door. We don’t assume the worst. We don’t threaten divorce {or even insinuate it}. Instead, we stay and share as honestly as we can. Listen to the other the best we can. Forgive. Hope. Encourage. Serve.

Last week on date night, the Husband and I visited one of our favorite Thai restaurants. As we sat on the patio and prepared to share a meal, he prayed and in the midst of his prayer asked God to help him have a healthy perspective about his work. I knew this was something that had been bothering him. And once he was done praying, I immediately went into fix-it mode offering him suggestions and advice that I thought would be helpful. I didn’t actually KNOW I was doing this, but soon I began to sense something wasn’t quite right. He finally said he knew it wasn’t my intention, but he was feeling like I was trying to fix him. Ugh!

Of course I apologized and asked his forgiveness, and he was quick to forgive. We went on with our dinner. But no less than 15 minutes later the tables were turned. He made a passing comment that pressed on some feelings I hadn’t shared with him yet. I was feeling disconnected. Lonely. Sad. And when our conversation tripped over those feelings, we were back to resolving conflict.

I can’t say that I went into this conflict with the desire to serve him. Nope. It started because I was longing for something FROM him. But I’d never told him. At least not recently. I just let it fester inside me. The interesting thing, as I look back now, is the way HE SERVED ME, by giving me the benefit of the doubt when I tried to fix him. It had everything to do with how quickly I softened in our conversation when I was the one who felt hurt.

In the words of Todd Wagner, my husband is one of the people who walks with me and helps “redeem my brokenness.” No, he is not Jesus. Only Jesus can truly redeem. But my husband, and the friends I allow into my world, they point me to Him. And remind me that in this world, I will have failures. And so will my spouse. And so will those very same friends. But we truly LOVE one another by sticking together. By speaking the hard truth about what we see that’s broken in each other’s lives. By having patience with one another. By giving grace. And we have the honor to pray when those things take more than just “trying harder” to resolve.

How have you witnessed conflict as a way to serve your spouse? 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Merritt June 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

HI Jody, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It’s so true. We think it’s “easier” to just let things go, but truthfully it’s not loving and allows sin to fester in our lives and our marriage. I would love for you to put a link to this series on your blog! Thanks. 🙂


Jody Watkins June 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Wow, Merritt I really appreciate this blog(I need to go back & read part 1 : )

In the area of conflict, for so many years I avoided it like the plague. I liked the false sense of a perfect marriage. My pride desired the praise of man and an easy life over a healthy relationship. Little did I realize how stunted and unhealthy our “perfect” marriage was. Neither David nor myself was a true help meet to the other. Both of us had faults, weaknesses, blind spots and spiritual issues we needed help with but we were afraid to rock the boat and say something. Suppressing conflict can be as damaging as handling it improperly! I thought I was loving my husband by ignoring the hurts, offenses, and fears but in reality many times my refusal to speak the truth in love (in private and in a timely manner) made him look bad in public. I appreciate David’s strengths, but the reality is, our weaknesses, graciously exposed and addressed, have become the greatest source of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth in our personal lives and marriage. That growth and conflict has never been fun, but well worth it! Conflict can be handled 1 of 3 ways. We can avoid/bury it and our marriages implode. We can handle it improperly and with pride and our marriages explode. Lastly we can face conflict together in grace and humility and grown from it.
Thank you for posting such wisdom and council, I need to book mark this…. (Do you mind if I put a link to this series on my marriage page??? Blessings


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