What is Conflict anyway?
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 (ESV)
Conflict, what is conflict anyway? A conflict is usually a serious disagreement or argument, typically a lengthy one between two or more people. Unfortunately, most of us go through at least one, if not more, conflicts within our lifetime. A few weeks ago, I was reflecting back upon an opposition which led to a division between my wife and me about 4 years ago. I found myself wondering if conflict was really such a bad thing. I know crazy, right? A conflict may leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but perhaps that very same conflict can be used as a learning opportunity.
4 years ago I started attending a church in Elgin. I was presented the Gospel at this church. I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized at this church. I had men who invested their time in me. There was discipleship and I was attending a great men’s group. I was growing in truth and knowledge of who God was and who He wanted me to be. At least that’s what I thought. The truth was, I was only focusing on myself and I was neglecting my family. All the while, my family was attending this church with me or should I say, for me. My wife continuously told me that she didn’t feel connected to God there. She kept telling me that she wasn’t happy. Although, I wasn’t even considering her needs, I was only focusing on my own.
Six months after I got baptized, the conflict in our lives began. My wife continually told me that she wanted us to find another church of which we both could be happy at. She felt that it was important for us to attend one church together, as a family. Again, I refused to meet her half way. Instead of listening to her, I got angry. I felt like I was losing friends and that I would have to start over. I didn’t care about what she felt. I wanted it my way. I was not listening and caring for my wife’s needs. Instead I took what she said as criticism. This feeling that I could not let go of, began creating major riffs between us.
A few weeks went by and one day after service, she told me that she couldn’t continue to follow me. She said that she needed to find a church that she too could feel connected to. I wasn’t happy about it, but I said, “Do what you feel you need to do, but this is where I need to be. As, this is where I feel that God wants me to be.” Shortly thereafter, she and our daughter began attending Sunday services at West Ridge. They loved the whole experience and she was again starting to feel her connection with God.
Shortly thereafter, I started comparing the two churches and no matter what happened; my church was going to win because in my head they were superior. Nothing could touch them. My presuppositions blinded me and caused tension for way too long.
Fortunately, at this point, God kindly smacked me hard in the face. Just as my wife had said many times before, I began asking myself, “Are we really arguing over a church?” He reminded me by His word that what I was doing was wrong. I am called to love my wife like Christ loved the church. I surely wasn’t doing that. I was causing division and strife. After some reflections and a lot of countless thoughts, I had a great conversation with Pastor Greg about it. I was then able to finally let go of those presuppositions and the disdain I felt for West Ridge. I was now able to compare the two churches properly. They were both God honoring churches. Although, what was more important was that we could grow spiritually together as a family, united in the same place. I moved to West Ridge two years ago. My wife and I talk about it from time to time. I really couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I love it here. I have grown as a man, as a husband and spiritually. West Ridge is my home and I couldn’t be happier. I was truly scared of losing what I had at my old church, but what I didn’t know was how much God was going to bless us when we moved here.
When you let go and let God drive your life, it may not always be easy, but it sure pays off in the end. I can’t change that year of my life, but I am happy that I was able to learn and grow from it.