Recognizing 1st Love significance restarts our relationship expectations, which restarts our response to conflict. Conflict is part of every relationship. Conflict occurs when we disagree with someone else. Sometimes that disagreement is a result of a sin issue. Other times it is a result of our desires being violated.
Unlike sin which does not allow for compromise or negotiation, a desire allows opportunity for us to learn to balance our own needs with the needs of others. Sometimes conflict occurs because we have elevated our desires to demands. When we begin making demands within our relationships, we are leaving the 1st Love paradigm, which is grounded in the way that God loves us. We are instead basing our interactions on what the other person does or does not do for us.
Thinking back to the concept that we matter and others matter can motivate us to engage with others in new ways. God calls us to learn to live at peace with others, but often the conflict resolution strategies that we learn are not effective or biblically-based. It is important to begin to see that God has a plan for how we handle conflict. This plan helps us transition from being focused on our immediate desires to being focused on God’s eternal plan for love. Reflect on the conflict styles, based on Ken Sande's "Slippery Slope" from the book Peacemaker.
Escape Responses are Peace-Faking.
These include leaving without the intent to return for resolution, blaming the other person or denying that you have been wronged. These responses reflect the belief that my needs do not matter, but your needs do matter. James 4:2 reminds us that, “You do not have because you do not ask.” With these responses, you do not let others know that you are hurting which leaves the other person believing that there is peace between you. Over time, you can build resentment.
Attack Responses are Peace-Breaking.
Peace-Breaking responses include putting down or criticizing, gossiping or fighting. These responses are self-centered and reflect the belief that my needs matter but your needs do not matter. James 4:2 clearly states that Attack Responses are unhealthy, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” With Attack Responses you are abandoning God’s design for peace. Instead you are using power to get your way.
Work-it-Out Responses are Peacemaking.
These include overlooking offenses, talking to find resolution and seeking help when needed. These responses reflect that my needs matter and your needs matter. Romans 15:5-7 calls us to “...live in such harmony with one another.” The desire for connection and harmony drives these responses. This requires communication and a loving approach to find a resolution that works for everyone involved. It also allows us to forgive the other person without discussing the issue which is useful for single incident hurts.
How was conflict handled in your family growing up?
How do you tend to respond in conflict? How do you need to change in responding to conflict?
What peacemaking approach can you use in your relationship?