Have you ever had a conflict with someone, and it was all their fault?
A few years ago I wrestled with feelings of helplessness over a close relationship that wasn’t as strong as it should be. I determined that I would work on the relationship. That I would use good communication tools. That I’d refuse to engage.
But then I butted heads with this person again. And again. It just seemed impossible.
It’s not my fault, I reasoned. I’m not the one being aggressive. I’m not the one who is easily offended.
One day as I prayed, God gently showed me something: I wasn’t treating this person the same as I would others.
What? That’s not true. I’m doing all the right things. I’m saying the right things.
Not in your heart, you’re not.
That day I resolved not to outwardly change, but to begin to change on the inside.
I started to look at this person through the eyes of faith. To see this person as I would others who I laughed with, joked with, had an easy, comfortable, loving relationship with.
It changed everything.
The next time that this person was easily wounded, I asked myself (before responding): What would I do if it was someone else?
I would hear them out. I would be compassionate. I wouldn’t bristle.
So I did.
The next time this person was aggressive, I asked myself (before responding): What would I do if this was someone else?
I wouldn’t take it personally. I wouldn’t give in to my temper. I’d ask them what was wrong.
So I did.
And things changed. Not overnight, but much quicker than I ever thought possible.
Regardless of whether this person changed or not, I did.
I wasn’t responsible for this person’s feelings or behavior, but I had built a defensive mechanism that threw up a guard, that didn’t laugh or smile easily (because I was anticipating conflict), and that robbed me of a pretty amazing relationship with someone I cared about.
This can take place with our marriages. We get ingrained in a defense-style relationship, and they no longer see the woman you truly are — the one who laughs, the one who is compassionate, the one who is free and joy-filled.
Maybe it is all his fault. And you can’t change him. You are right. No one is big enough to change another person.
But what if you start to see your husband, your child, that difficult relationship through eyes of faith? Seeing that other person as the one God knows he can be. What if you paused long enough to ask: How would I respond if this was someone else? The person I am praying that he will be.
Maybe he won’t change, but you will. Dropping your guard, removing anger or resentment from your thoughts, off your chest, is reward enough. We were never intended to carry such a heavy burden.
But what if he does change? What if this opens a door to a healthier relationship? A new beginning?
Today: When conflict arises, you are not responsible for their bad behavior. But take a step back before you respond. See this person through the eyes of faith — as who He can be through the healing power of God, and then respond.