For Girls

Conflict: Sailing Through the Storm

by Beth Bryant

God’s Word is filled with Scriptures that show us conflict (AKA drama) —handled both the right and wrong way. In fact, one parable Jesus taught in Matthew 18:23-34 represents both kinds of conflict management.

A king wanted to settle accounts with a servant who owed him what would amount to millions of dollars. The servant could never pay off this immense debt and begged for mercy so he and his whole family wouldn’t be sold as slaves. The king felt compassion and canceled the debt of the servant in full. Later in the day, the same servant came upon another who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed him and choked him saying, “Pay what you owe!” He refused mercy and had that servant put into debtor’s prison.

Other servants of the king saw what had happened and told their master. The king sent for him, irate at his lack of empathy, handed him over to the prison until he repaid his entire debt. Jesus ended the story saying, “That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers” (verse 35).

The very same person shown compassion over a much greater debt showed very little compassion over a much smaller debt. We can be quick to throw stones here, but God’s girls must confess that often we are not quick to show compassion when someone’s offended us.

No matter how much we hate conflict, it’s always going to exist because conflict has its roots in human nature’s pride and selfishness. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul reminds believers that terrible actions come from our sinful, human nature, or works of the flesh. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Drama Remedy 1

It’s impossible to avoid all forms of drama, so God’s girls need to learn how to deal with it in a healthy, God-honoring way. In the same chapter of Galatians (5:22-23), the fruit of the Spirit are the character qualities Paul suggests God’s girls should utilize inhandling conflict. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

When we constantly involve ourselves in conflict, we aren’t displaying the fruits of the Spirit—the qualities or “markers” showing a real, growing ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­relationship with Jesus Christ. When the fruit of the Spirit isn’t being produced in our lives, then nothing else will be quite right. We reap the wrong kinds of qualities and behaviors and become frustrated and dissatisfied, which only adds fuel to the fires of conflict in our lives.

Drama Remedy 2

Note the circumstances in which you’re most likely to initiate or engage in conflict so you can practice prevention. These are some common drama scenarios:

  • When I’m not getting the attention I need from parents, friends, or others
  • When my hormones are crazy
  • When I feel like I’ve been hurt or disrespected by someone
  • When I start feeling bored
  • When I’m under a lot of stress
  • When I’m not getting enough sleep

Sometimes it seems like conflict is easier to ignore than to resolve. We might be tempted to pretend like nothing’s going on. Or we might react in a defensive way and retaliate. Either way, God is pretty serious about making things right. So serious, in fact that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His followers conflict with others affects our worship—it comes between us and God (Matthew 5:24).

Drama Remedy 3:

Resolve conflict by putting away our pride to make peace. Drama doesn’t often resolve unless both parties humble themselves, listen to each other, admit to any wrong-doing (even if unintentional), seek forgiveness, and grant grace and forgiveness.

Practical tips for navigating the rocky waters of conflict:

  1. Choose your closest friends carefully. Some people are drama magnets. Be friends, but don’t make the drama magnets your go-to BFF.
  2. Stay away from cliques, groups, or squads. Conflict always ruminates somewhere in a closed or exclusive group of friends. Do your best to mingle. Change up whom you sit with at lunch every so often. Hang out with different people.
  3. Be the same person across the board. You are much more likely to see less conflict
    when people know you present the same “face” to all and don’t play favorites.
  4. Read God’s Word. Spend time in prayer. Learn what it means to grow in Christ and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. This way, when conflict pops up, you’ll be much more in tune with God. He can reveal the best way to handle the issue(s) and display the right attitude as you trust in Him.
  5. Commit to a gossip-free mouth! Don’t let anything untrue, unkind, or unsure of be said about another person. If it can’t be said in their presence, forget about saying it to anyone else.
  6. Bring a mediator. When you find yourself in a sticky conflict that might be difficult to resolve, try to find someone both of you trust to mediate and help you resolve the conflict. A third-party, godly adult, teacher, or pastor are always good options.
  7. Manage stress in healthy ways and get enough sleep!  Stress puts our emotions on edge and we’re more likely to lash out at someone. Well-rested people can think more clearly to avoid conflict AND manage it more wisely.
  8. Realize it’s just not worth it. Your teen-girl’s brain may not be able to foresee the stress and pain caused by stirring up drama over an offense. When something starts a conflict, work it out as peaceably as possible before it turns ugly and you do or say something you’ll regret.

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