Shannon Dittemore

October22nd

10 Comments

Conflict is what makes a good story. It’s what I look for when I’m scanning back covers, what I hope for when I flip the pages. But in my very real, every day life, I hate it. I hate everything about it.

I wasn’t always so paranoid about disagreements. Confrontation didn’t bother me. Conflict was a natural thing, and should be dealt with just as naturally. But after a handful of sour experiences several years ago, I just don’t have the stomach for it.

And now, I find myself doing anything and everything to avoid that kind of situation. At first, my efforts weren’t big ones. More reactionary. I’d avoid certain people, certain situations. I’d skirt issues that were sure to frustrate me. I patently refused to talk about politics or other uncomfortable topics. And while all of these things are probably okay–and sometimes wise–when done in moderation, it wasn’t long before I noticed something. My efforts were–and sometimes still are–keeping me from participating in the things I love. Not only do I actively avoid frustration, I have a tendency to run from it.

Because I’m afraid.

Afraid of losing friends. Of losing my mind. Of  the battle that ravages my gut when people are disappointed in me.

I run from conflict because something tells me that’s easier. Until, in my messy efforts to avoid one frustration, I run smack into another. Because, guess what, people are everywhere. Life happens. And perhaps the hardest thing for any of us to swallow: not everyone agrees with me. *shock*

But this whole running thing is ugliest when the inevitable downside rears it’s ugly head. When I am forced to deal with conflict, I find I’m out of practice. I’m rusty. And my efforts to resolve even the smallest of frustrations are awkward and leave me angsty when all is said and done.

But I’m onto it now. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally realized that avoiding conflict is impossible. So I’m navigating the strange choppy waters of my own self-esteem and reminding myself that even complete anonymity won’t keep some people from disliking me. Haters will find me. They’ll find you. But if we hide from the possibility of frustration, we might just keep out the people who actually like us. Who care about us. Who are close enough to actually hurt us from time to time.

I’m a work in progress, people, and I’m learning. The Bible says all sorts of things about dealing with conflict. Most notable is the passage in Matthew 18.

But if I’m honest, the thing that helps me most when I’m adrift on waves of emotion, is to remember that God’s love for us surpasses all these things. He’s knows our brokenness. And even when we’re hiding, when we’re frustrated and lost, when we’re terrified of dealing with the inevitable conflict around us, nothing, nothing, nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Cling to that when it’s hard. When you don’t have the strength to face another conflict, remember God’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

I’m learning that my own strength is never enough. There’s truth to the insecure little voice that spouts, “You can’t do this alone!” But there’s peace in the idea as well. Because I’ve never been asked to face the frustrations of this life alone. And I think I can do just about anything when I’m wrapped in God’s love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:35, 37-39 

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10 Comments

  • Comment by Heather — October 22, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    I don’t like conflict either. (And I’m a litigator – eeek…) I like your conclusion, that we are meant to handle conflict with God’s help.

  • Comment by Shan — October 22, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

    Oh eek, Heather! But I’m glad there are litigators out there. What would we do without you all? And thank you, for stopping by my blog. I love chatting with others about this stuff.

  • Comment by Krista — October 22, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    I am SO with you, Shannon! Great post!

  • Comment by Donna Stinson — October 22, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

    I can so relate to this, Shannon and we’re not alone. Most of us hate conflict and will do everything possible to stay away from it. But, you’re right, it has a way of catching up to us and we can’t run from it forever. Unfortunately, it seems to be a part of this life. I am in a very tender stage, having been hurt repeatedly by certain people over the past few months, and am hiding. I think there’s a time for that and I know there will be a time I have to deal with it head on but I have so much going on in my life right now that requires all of my attention that I’ve chosen to deal with the conflict by avoiding it for now. And I’m okay with that. 🙂

  • Comment by Shan — October 22, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

    I absolutely agree with you, Donna. I’m so glad that Christ isn’t ONLY our strength. He’s our refuge too. Our hiding place. I am so sorry you’re in a vulnerable place, friend. I know all about that and I pray that as you take shelter from the storm, your wounds would mend and your relationship with the Father continues to deepen. God bless.

  • Comment by Shan — October 22, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

    I heart you Krista!

  • Comment by Jill Williamson — October 23, 2012 @ 6:34 am

    I hear you, Shannon! For me, getting hurt by Christians stinks the most. And it has made me cynical. But I’ve been praying for mercy and understanding, and God has shown me that people who come at me with conflict… it comes from their own fears, from things that happened to them in their past, things they’re trying to protect themselves or others from, logical or not. They’re reacting. It’s rarely personal toward me, but it’s always personal for them in some way.

    But when the time comes when I do need to speak up, it’s super hard. I don’t like conflict either. I have zero litigation skills. *grin*

  • Comment by magan bagan — October 23, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    I’ve been right there, too! Conflict is something I’ve always hated and I’ve tried to do everything that I can to make everyone around me happy. It took a long time to realize that I just can’t and I’m okay with that.

    You’re posts always seem to come at a time when I need them. So thank you!

  • Comment by Caryn Caldwell — November 8, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    I’m so with you on this! I’ve had friends before who thrive on conflict – who love to debate and argue. Who find drama thrilling. I’d rather read it in books, though, and watch it in movies. And make my own characters experience it, of course, because that’s strangely fun. But in my own life? No, thank you. 🙂

  • Comment by Megan — November 20, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    I’m one of those, like you, who doesn’t like conflict. But you’re right. With God’s help (because He never truly leaves us alone), we can get through it.

    I do find it funny, though, because I just recently read somewhere that conflict is plot, just like you said. I find it kinda funny that it’s what we as authors need to work into our books but in real life, it’s also what we try to steer clear of. Amazing.

    Anyway, happy writing and I hope your life is not so conflict-based 🙂

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