Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fun with Dick and Jane

My last post was finished off with the suggestion that resolving conflict ALWAYS starts with you. What qualifies me to say this? Well, nothing really, except that it occurs to me that if we each really thought about, we'd see the truth and beauty of this simple, logical idea.

Look at it this way. Dick and Jane are in conflict, and the conflict, whatever it is, is chipping away at them everyday. There have been haphazard attempts at peace, those meaningless apologies with qualifiers attached to them (you know...I'm sorry I did that but.......), for the most part though, neither Dick and Jane have moved toward collaborative resolution of whatever it is they are in conflict about. And because of this, it lays like a mass under the surface, with the potential of sinking the Titantic.

Dick is pointing the finger at Jane, and Jane is pointing the finger at Dick. Dick is waiting for Jane to see things his way and give in...and of course, Jane thinks Dick is kidding himself, all he has to do is change, grow up and see how wrong he has been and how wrong he still is. Both are waiting on the other, and as the wait continues, thoughts spiral, and the relationship degenerates. A truce of sorts occurs here and there; it's tenuous at best, until something else triggers the memories of the initial, underlying conflict, exacerbating it even more, and the spiral continues. As it is left unresolved, it takes on a life of it's own. Dick and Jane become more intent on resolving eachother than on resolving whatever it was that initially had them biting at eachother.

But what if??? What if Dick said to himself..."resolving this conflict starts with me"...and what if Jane said to herself..."resolving this conflict starts with me"? You would have two people equally willing to be made willing to accept their responsibility in the conflict; take ownership for their part and take ownership for the conditions of their respective hearts; you would have two people willing to be made willing to seek forgiveness and make real amends, and offer forgiveness to the other. You would have two people using their power to make a choice to give up their demandedness, and instead of engaging in the power struggle with each other, they each would be willing to learn how to combine their respective power to work towards the good of them both, and for their relationship.

It's so simple, it's beautiful.

Unfortunately though, because of the default position we as fallen humans find ourselves in, most of the time this kind of thinking does not come naturally. Because of this same default position, we each tend to believe that the only resolution is "my solution". We fight for our position instead of understanding our respective interests (more elaboration on this in another post)

What do I mean when I say "default position"? Much like your computer might be programmed to some sort of automatic default, so are we when it comes to our reactions in conflict. Defensiveness is in our genes; we inherited it from Adam. Remember his response when God questioned him about his disobediance in the garden? His reply was "the women YOU gave me, made me do it". Adam did not take responsibility, he deflected, blamed and did not even really repent at first. This failing to take ownership has permeated our beings and from there, our culture, to such an extent that sin driven vices are diseases, and addictions are genetic.

Good news though...we are no longer children of Adam. And we have a choice to allow a new default position to be "programmed" into us by our ultimate Helper, Holy Spirit.

Finally, all other "arguments" aside, the most obvious reason why I believe that the best conflict resolution begins when we say "resolving this conflict starts with me" is because God Himself demonstrated it. He is our ultimate example. There is no greater conflict, with more far reaching, tragic implications, than the one of sin and separation between us and our Creator. And our Creator (and even though He was the One who had been sinned against!) said "resolving this conflict starts with Me" and He sent his Son.

It's so simple it's beautiful...and it's so beautiful, it's simple.

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