The link to this article on conflict resolutions tips by Ken Sande came in an email newsletter from the church I attended in Sydney.
I find conflict a really grievous and stressful business, one that sometimes gets extraordinarily complicated by other factors. I am not a person who has had a lot of conflict in my life. We INFJs are generally known to be the diplomats and peacemakers, and generally I think that is true for me. Particularly in work situations I have been commended for working with, or at least around, some of the most difficult people. But that only makes it even more distressing and surprising when it comes along, and for reasons you can’t understand and don’t seem to be able to resolve.
A while ago I asked someone to forgive me, and I don’t even really know what for at the highest level, except that I must have done a lousy job of doing good to this person given the way they react to and treat me. I didn’t get answer, so I guess I just have to assume I am not forgiven. Not forgiven enough for an answer in any case. And the truth is, my attempts to reconcile the problem have only contributed to the problem and thus made it worse, mostly because they achieve nothing at all so just add to the pile of attempts, which is itself partly the problem.
But the article helped me see that perhaps that is in some measure because my efforts have been fuelled by good desires that have just grown to big, “such as a craving to be understood, loved, respected, or vindicated”. (We INFJs are also a bit nuts about wanting to be understood.) And I have definitely focused a little too much “love, attention, and energy on something other than God”, in wanting to bring those things about. That makes me wonder whether even wanting to resolve conflict in itself can become a form of idolatry that inevitably causes conflict? … (A person could get very tangled up!) Whichever way that works I “should deliberately pursue right worship, that is, to fix your heart and mind on God and to seek joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction in him alone”.
It’s also helpful to read that God doesn’t hold us responsible for the outcomes. If another person is not willing, or not ready yet, to respond to a request for forgiveness, well that is not something we can force them into or be responsible for, and we might just need to let it be. And if I have muffed up the attempts, even really badly, and been misguided, and feel terribly misunderstood, I believe they were, at least sometimes, motivated by attempts at obedience, which is what God requires.
And I am very glad that God isn’t someone who is going to say “I forgive you; I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again”.