The Good Thing About Conflict
The other day, my thin-as-a-rail daughter yelled in alarm, “Mom, I’m fat!” When I turned to look, I saw that she was standing in front of glass sliders, looking at her reflected image. I walked over and stood beside her. Sure enough, the glass compressed my image, making me appear a foot shorter and fifty pounds heavier. I stepped away in relief, feeling as though I had just looked at myself in a fun-house mirror.
Although most of us are familiar with how certain kinds of mirrors can create false images, I wonder how many of us are aware that the image we project to ourselves about ourselves can also be false. Sometimes, instead of creating negative images, our inner mirrors can create images that are all too flattering, hiding personality defects or weaknesses from the very person who most needs to see them.
What do I mean by that? Before I had children, I thought I was a nicer, kinder, wiser, gentler person than I really am. It wasn’t hard to be nice when I wasn’t under the pressure of caring for little ones who often did not want to do what their mother thought they should. Plus there was the added pressure of protecting and providing for them. Being a mother has given me a more accurate picture of my spiritual maturity, or lack of it.
Ken Sande, the author of The Peacemaker, makes a similar point by saying that
“God may also use conflict to expose sinful attitudes and habits in your life. Conflict is especially effective in breaking down appearances and revealing stubborn pride, a bitter and unforgiving heart, or a critical tongue.”1
Though it’s not much fun to see ourselves, warts and all, it’s an essential part of following Christ. Why? Because he doesn’t just barge in and make us perfect once we belong to him. He requires our permission to continue to shape and mold us. If we want to be people whose lives reflect the beauty and peace of God, we have to be willing to reflect his character as well.
- Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflicts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 37.