(Photo by Pana Vasquez on Unsplash)
This is a revelation that has greatly impacted me recently. Our conflicts are often caused or exacerbated because we speak through our walls rather than from our heart. What I have learnt is that we don't often say what we're really feeling or needing, but rather we offer a more detached analysis of the situation or conversation. However what we often then do is take the person's words and tones completely at face value, neglecting to see that what they are really wanting to say is hidden behind this wall of analyses.
All of these happen unconsciously, through processes that have become second nature to us. What we really want to say has become harder to say than the walls we put up.
And I think that the reason for this is because of sin. If you remember, the moment Adam and Eve sinned, they covered themselves up with fig leaves. And to this day, I'm still trying to cover myself up with metaphorical fig leaves.
There is a better way to deal with difficult conversations. Notice that this is a better way, not an easier way. It actually is a lot harder in the moment, but the long-term benefits cannot be overstated. The key is to learn how to listen for NEEDS behind what is being said. And this goes both ways. We need to listen for OUR needs when we are in a conflict situation, which I have found to be very cathartic in itself!
I had a difficult conversation recently and walked away from it with a bunch of emotions swirling on the inside. I took the time to process what those emotions were, and I finally got clarity on it. I felt worried and lost because where the conversation ended on that occasion did not have a final resolution to it. I therefore felt like I was trapped in a holding pattern and was not able to land. I was worried because I didn't know how much fuel this holding pattern would consume, and fearful that I wouldn't have enough to have a safe landing. Upon identifying the analogy of the holding pattern for my needs, I was able to work out where I can find satisfaction for those needs. The other person was not ready to land yet, and forcing a resolution at that time would cause the conflict to escalate. Instead I turned to God, asking for strength and trusting that He could help me with the landing.
When I was able to find my needs met in God, it then freed me up to sense the deeper needs; perhaps unsaid needs the other person was showing me. I could give far more energy to putting their needs at the forefront of my attention, rather than fighting to keep my wall up.
The Bible teaches us to put the needs of other in front of ours. I never quite saw this verse in relation to conflict resolution. But now that I've learnt this, I don't ever want to go back to the old way of fighting. I want to learn to be more transparent with my needs, and I want to be able to get a glimpse behind people's walls and find ways that I can help others with their needs.