How To Have Peace In Conflict

Each one of us has conflict in our lives right now in some way or another. Discovering how to have peace even during times of conflict is invaluable.

The word peace appears 237 times in the Old Testament. Peace is NOT the absence of conflict. It’s the sense of well-being during conflict. The Hebrew word translated as peace is shalom. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means completeness, wholeness, soundness, and welfare. It comes from the root word to make amends and make whole and complete. We are not running from conflict How do we find peace and wellness even during conflict?

In finding peace, there’s an action step. We can proactively make peace or seek it out. Oswald Chambers says we have to be active about kicking moods out of our lives,  “Moods nearly always our rooted in some physical circumstance not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise because of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves. Then we will find that we can do what we were unable to do.” Peace is found in our internal selves and we find peace by shaping that, instead of our circumstances.

A great place to start In conflict is identifying what role we are playing and how that may be getting in the way of our peace.
The Offender – I’ve done something wrong, and I’ve created conflict
The Offended – I was hurt by something someone else did, intentionally or unintentionally.
The Defender – I am racing to go and find peace for somebody else in their conflict, not my own.
Once you’ve identified the role you are playing, take a step back and look at the situation analytically rather than emotionally. This allows us to evaluate the conflict from an “if/then” perspective and with a solution-oriented focus so we can find more peace.
(download a graphic illustrating the 3 roles)

If we are offender, it’s important to go to the person and apologize and make amends the best we can. When we have a role in causing conflict or causing pain, we will find peace in admitting and accepting what we have done. If we can’t go to the person, maybe they have passed away or we are no longer in contact with them, we can go to God with our repentance. When we go to Him, His grace is sufficient for us and for our mistakes. Embracing our fault doesn’t mean we rectify the conflict every time, but it does mean we clean up our side of the street. And in that honest acceptance, we can find peace knowing we have taken responsibility for the harm we caused. Even if the conflict remains, internally we can rest in having done our part to apologize and make things right in so much as we can.

If we have been offended, and feel we’ve been wronged, we can move toward peace is by recognizing that the offender’s actions say more about them than it does about us. We don’t have to let the offense define us. We can admit and validate that it hurt but we can also extend grace knowing we have hurt someone else before too and understanding we have been hurt before and hurt is not permanent. The hurt isn’t who I am. It’s how I feel right now. This is so hard to do. It’s an ongoing process especially when it’s something big.  It’s okay to feel the hurt. What is necessary is being careful in how we respond so we don’t lash out and become an offender ourselves. We also need to be careful about not walling ourselves off in response to being hurt. Isolating and disconnecting will not bring us peace in conflict. It might protect us from being hurt again but it also keeps us from healthy emotional connection with others. It’s okay to hurt and there’s no timeline for the hurt to disappear. It’s just not okay for the hurt to take over your peace and take over who you are. The hurt is not who you are. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. When we are hurt, we need to give grace to ourselves.

If we are playing the role of a defender and jumping into conflict that is happening to someone else, we can find peace in asking ourselves if we are needed in that role. Is it justifiable or appropriate for me to be acting in defense of someone else? AS parents, we do need to be a defender for our kids. But even in that role, we must go in with an attitude of curiosity and humility. We can go in seeking to understand. I that exploration, we can find peace as we discover more. But there are times when it’s not our place to be a defender. Getting in the middle of conflict with other adults that doesn’t involve us puts us in a position to choose sides, get offended ourselves, and take on burdens that are not ours to carry. We need to ask ourselves if we need to get involved or if we just need a boundary to maintain our peace.

When we experience conflict in our lives, it can help to understand the anatomy of what’s happening and the role we play. Stepping back to look at it from that perspective can help us find our way forward to internal peace. Even if we can’t solve the problem or make the situation better, we can do our part to be honest about our part in things and gain peace with God, with ourselves, and often with those involved too. We need God to be part of the process too. Praying for each person can make all the difference. That little shift in our thoughts and heart may not seem like a big deal but it can make a big difference over time. Just like a small vector change can alter the course of a flight when calculated over distance, a shift in our attitude through prayer can change the trajectory of how we feel about conflict. Peace in conflict is possible. Invite God into it with you and seek Him to understand your role. Walk in humility to own your part, whether as one who has caused harm, one who has been harmed, or one who seeks to defend others who have been hurt. His presence will act as a powerful instrument of healing and peace as you follow His lead. And this is the key to having peace in conflict.

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