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When people fall out with each other, the pain of that broken relationship brings anguish to all parties which can then ripple out. Saying sorry is really hard, and sometimes doesn’t feel enough to heal the rift. What’s sometimes needed is mediation: listening carefully to both sides and steering them back onto common ground. Could you be that peace-bringer?
GREEN: Ask God to reveal if any of your relationships need restoring. Offer the situation to God in prayer, then be prepared to talk with them – however difficult it might be.
AMBER: Offer to listen to someone who is struggling with a difficult relationship. Give them space to speak rather than trying to offer answers.
RED: Bridge Builders is an organization that specializes in bringing conflict transformation. Get in touch with them in the future if you need a safe space for you or others you know to meet and spend time listening to each side.
‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…’2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV
As the youngest child, growing up with two older brothers, falling out with one another was part of ordinary life. We were a fairly sporty competitive bunch, so the skirmishes were often about whose turn it was to bat or bowl or go in goal, or occasionally slightly more serious disputes about someone caught cheating in a game or, at least, bending the rules a little to their advantage.
Most of those childhood fallings out were quickly forgotten or resolved, but as I grew older, I realized that many of the disagreements I encountered were often much more complex both to understand and to resolve. I also realized that some of that competitiveness remains – being proved right, or being unwilling to admit we might be wrong, can leave us stuck in entrenched positions. Sometimes those positions get so stuck that we’ve almost forgotten the original cause of the disagreement – we are now fighting the person themselves rather than their opinion.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. We can choose to do something differently – noticing how stuck we’ve become might be a start. Developing our listening skills is another. Forgiveness and reconciliation are at the heart of the gospel. Just as God has reconciled us with himself, with his help we can humble ourselves, forgive (or apologize) and restore broken relationships with each other.
Moving towards the other person when we’re in conflict is not something that happens by accident. We choose to do it. There is a cost; it requires persistence and courage, but it’s worth it for the freedom and love that replaces anger and bitterness. It’s risky work as we are never sure what response we might receive. But if not us, then who? Are you willing?
Liz Griffiths is Director of Training with Bridge Builders and is involved in leading courses and workshops and providing consultancy, facilitation and mediation. Liz has been passionate about issues of peace and justice since her student days.
She sees her work as part of her vocation in living out of the gospel of reconciliation. When not working, Liz loves wildlife, is a keen birdwatcher and will talk endlessly about red kites! She also enjoys opera, and sport of all kinds.