Nov 22, 2010

Conflict Can Be a Good Thing

Friendship for Grown-ups
 chapter 11
Conflict Can Be a Good Thing

Just the title of this chapter sends shivers down my spine.  I think it is especially hard if you've been wounded by friendships in the past.  Conflict, or the thought of it, kinda makes me want to avoid friendships all together.

But if we decide we truly want to find healing in this area of our lives, or even if we just want to open up our friendship possibilities to deeper more authentic relationships~then we need to be brave enough to talk about conflict, or the possibility of them within friendship.  

I had to laugh a little at Lisa sharing boundaries and how they can (and should be established) for our good.  That we put up boundaries not as a way of manipulation, but as self-care
Her example is:

"If you continue to ____________ (fill in the blank), then in order to take care of myself, I will have to ____________ (fill in the blank)." 

I thought how I'd have to revise my boundaries in huge ways, as right now after another bad friendship, I'd say in the I will have to part, something about moving into an isolated cave.

Which also reminds me of something someone whom I look up to greatly, said to me a few weeks back over a quick cup of coffee (if you haven't heard of Impact Nations- or Steve and Christina Stewart- by all means check them out, they are my heroes!!)  As I shared my fear of stepping out into friendship and my desire to go off into a cave (for a while, of undetermined length) Christina said, "Hmm, I think Jesus would be okay with a closet, not so sure about the cave Kimmie."  Honestly, she spoke it to me so genuinely that it really moved my heart away from my cave threat and back into being open to whatever God has for me now. Oh how I love this awesome couple...I so want to be like them!   But I digress.

Lisa Whelchel tells us that conflict, as she was taught by her wise friend Ney, is an opportunity for a closer connection.  We have to be careful with the bricks that are built in our friendship walls- each little difference can be another brick put up in the wall of separation between our hearts. Walls are no good when you want friendship- walls cause separation and eventually pain.
I have found friendship difficult when I am put in the *mentor* position.  When people come to me for advice, I have recently learned that they don't really always want it.  I always tell them I am not perfect, or a counselor or a Pastor, who is trained for such situations.  I advise them strongly to make an appointment with their Pastor (especially when it always seems to be such HUGE things they ask me).  I have tried to share what the Bible says, but honestly I don't think they wanted this, but just someone who would empathize without counsel. Tricky, huh?   I am not sure how to handle these situations, actually I cringe whenever anyone asks me (I can't even tell you how many times my phone rings with people who just want to ask me...)  

I asked God to make them stop. 
He didn't. 
I asked Him to take me off the *call list*,
but He did not. 
I begged and pleaded with Him to put me in a cave for a lengthy period of reprieve,
I told him I love how He put Elijah by the brook and sent him ravens...
I've tried to convince Him that my cave desire was so close to this Bible story...
but He laughed at the thought. 

What He said went something like this, 

"You follow me, you LOVE me, you ask to be filled with my Spirit. I have given you wisdom and expect you to use it for my purposes.  PERIOD."

Yeah, it wasn't and isn't what I want to hear.

What I have realized at this stage of my life is that I am longing for a friendship where I am not the mature one or the mentor.  I'd love to have a deep friendship where the roles were reversed and I was the one getting to be mentored! I've asked God and I am waiting, maybe not so patiently.
Oh Lord, make me more gracious, more empathetic to others hearts and needs. Help me to be willing to serve you, no matter what you ask of me.  Help me to be wise and know when to speak and when not to speak.  But mostly Lord, be my friend, as I know YOU have so much to teach me.  I submit myself into your hands and wait ever so expectantly for our friendship to grow!

Okay, now what do you think about all of this chapter? 


Karen said...

I love this chapter! But then, I'm a big fan of boundaries...on the other hand, I hate confrontation so I don't like it. I like the freedom that it's okay to not put up with behaviors that are damaging...and I like the thought that I may be misunderstanding a situation and it could easily be taken care of with a simple explanation...

I agree with you about people asking but not wanting to hear...sometimes I've felt as though people were annoyed by what I had to share....I've actually distanced myself from some of them and grown closer to some other people who have large families and are ahead of me as I so value their input.

mom said...

Ohhh, Kimmie, I could have said the exact same many people come for advice, but seem to have no intention of following it even if it is directly from God's Word. They only want their ears tickled. Our sympathies. To be hearers, not doers. They do not have teachable spirits. Oh dear....I better stop now, eh? LOL!

Tammy ~@~

mom said...

My word verification was "lovas".....and I spoke it out as.....and God whispered to my heart,"love as *I* do". Kind of like an instant conviction about what I had just posted....I need to love them just as He loves them. It's not the healthy that He came for, but the sick who need Him the most....even if they won't listen!

Tammy ~@~

Stace said...

advice. When people say they want it, sometimes they REALLY don't. Kimmie, you are DEAD on. I too would love a mentor. To "fill other's cup", your cup must also get filled.

My husband IS the pastor and I have a Social Work degree with training in counseling... It's hard. BUT WORTH IT. I wouldn't trade it. I think I separate the friendship from the advice...

But sometimes OTHERS can't. We've had several families LEAVE our congregation after we'd worked with them through some very dark days. They never said as much but I think they didn't like being around us cuz we "knew their dark secrets" or something. God is BIGGER than that. One family is connecting with a new church and the others... well, not so much.

THAT'S WHAT BREAKS MY HEART. They opened up, we "went deep" and now they don't want to be around us. And I wouldn't have put most of them in the "friend" category but STILL...

Anonymous said...

I'm not one that's big on conflict, but I've found that dealing with those little bricks is healthy for me and my friendships. It was difficult at first to confront some of my friends who have an a-type personality and discuss how some of the things they were saying to me was hurtful. At times they were receptive to my new boundaries and other times they weren't. But I didn't want to be a person who was taken advantage of any longer, so those boundaries were healthy for me. There were a couple of friendships that I did have to walk away from because they weren't willing to accept the boundaries I was setting. But God has replaced those friendships with new healthy ones.

Roselawn said...

When I reflect on my past friendships, I now realize that I completely avoid conflict. I think I unconsiously choose to move on to new relationships when things get "complicated"... (which, luckily, really hasn't seemed to happen all that often). I have had very few really, really close friendships in my life. I have chosen to focus on my relationship with God and family, my career, and other interests which doesn't leave me much time or energy to put into much else. I had a hard time with this chapter because I would rather walk away from the brick walls. I felt like it was telling me to allow confrontation and that makes me uncomfortable.

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