Conflict: my own personal mirror....
I'll admit it. I have a pet peeve, and one that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I hate when people don't answer their cell phone despite the fact that I almost never answer mine. Early on in my marriage a majority of our fights centered around the fact that he frequently missed my calls. It drove me mad and since I'd never seen conflict handled all that well, what started as a small annoyance blossomed into a knock-down-drag-out fight. That fight would bunny trail into other fights and so on, ad naseum, and suddenly that small issue turned into a day-after-day nightmare of fighting, yelling, screaming, and (I wince at this) occasional glass thrown at walls. (Did I mention I'm Italian?) Conflict for me was anything but helpful. It was something to be avoided when one could, and done loudly when one couldn't. The only lesson in it for me was getting the other person to admit they had wronged me. It was about punishment and control. If you'd wronged me there was no stopping the fire that followed, and I quite frequently burned bridges and whole towns of friendships to the ground and I was quickly on my way to destroying our marriage as well. Until...until one day I found myself alone in a bathroom starring at myself in the mirror after a fight. My face was blotchy, my cheeks were red, and my eyes, they told it all. They were the eyes of fear and hate devoid of grace, and I knew immediately that I abhorred what stood in front of me. What was I doing to myself? What was I doing to Kevin? Why were we in such constant conflict? When I searched my heart I knew that the missed phone calls were more than just a quirky pet peeve. It was a fear and control issue, the fear of losing him and of being in control of both our lives, that he was rubbing against that caused the conflict. I wonder if many conflicts in life could be solved by searching our hearts first? Could it be that whatever annoys or rubs us about another is simply rubbing against an issue in our own hearts? I've found that in my own life, conflict serves as a kind of mirror into my heart, a refiners fire that exposes my own iniquities and issues. Conflict often has less to do with the other person and much more to do with me than I'd like to admit. I still have days where I want to hurl blunt objects at my husband, but when I remember to stop and check my heart first, I often find that if I resolve the root heart issue, what would have been a raging argument turns into a rational and heartfelt discussion, if there's any conflict at all. And our glassware is thankful I'm sure!;-)
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