Spiritualizing Away Conflict

In looking at my life and my tendency to avoid rocking the boat at all costs, it is so helpful to begin to understand how unhealthy my spirituality has been.

In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Peter Scazzero lists the “Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality”. Number 7 is spiritualizing away conflict.

Very, very few of us come from families where conflicts are resolved in a mature, healthy way. Most simply bury our tensions and move on. In my own family, when I became a Christian I was the great “peacemaker” I would do anything to keep unity and love flowing in the church as well as my marriage and family. I saw conflict as something that had to be fixed as quickly as possible. Like radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant, if not contained, I feared it might unleash terrible damage.

So I did what most Christians do: I lied a lot, both to myself and others.

What do you do when faced with the tension and mess of disagreements? Some of us may be guilty of one or more of the following:

  • Say one thing to people’s faces and then another behind their backs
  • Make promises we have no intention of keeping
  • Blame
  • Attack
  • Give people the silent treatment
  • Become sarcastic
  • Give in because we are afraid of not being liked
  • “Leak” our anger by sending an e-mail containing a not-so-subtle criticism
  • Tell only half the truth because we can’t bear to hurt a friend’s feelings
  • Say yes when we mean no
  • Avoid and withdraw and cut off
  • Find an outside person with whom we can share in order to ease our anxiety

Jesus shows us that healthy Christians do not avoid conflict. His life was filled with it! He was in regular conflict with the religious leaders, the crowds, the disciples—even his own family. Out of a desire to bring true peace, Jesus disrupted the false peace all around him. He refused to “spiritualize away” conflict.

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am ready to get emotionally healthy and quit lying to myself. Instead of giving in, telling half-truths, and saying yes when I mean no, I choose to embrace the conflict and allow the Lord to walk through it with me, teaching me to respond in a Christ-like way instead.

So encouraged to be on this journey of healing!

11 thoughts on “Spiritualizing Away Conflict

  1. Yup, I needed to hear this. Wasn’t thinking it would apply to me, but I do many of those things. Have to make a turnabout for 2012. 8^)

    • I highly recommend the book that came from: “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzaro. Trust me friend…it will be a huge answer to your prayers! Big hug to you my friend! 🙂

  2. Great post. So true. One thought:

    •Tell only half the truth because we can’t bear to hurt a friend’s feelings

    If I’m honest, this one comes back to me, too. It isn’t about the friend at all. I don’t like how I feel when someone else’s feelings are hurt. “[I] can’t bear” it because of my own feelings, not the friend’s. It’s uncomfortable watching others suffer hurt feelings, especially if they are reacting to something I said.
    The reality is, it is usually that half of the truth I’m not comfortable telling that has the most potential to bring healing and/or freedom into that friend’s life – which is the very reason it is uncomfortable! And, in the long run, I’m being kinder by telling the whole truth even if it causes temporary discomfort.
    How many “American Idol” contestants could have been spared national humiliation if their friends had bravely told them the other half of the truth instead of choosing to spare their feelings.
    In the grand scheme, whose feelings are really being spared?

    • Right on, Janey.

      How much of what we do is focused on what is most comfortable for us rather than what is best for the other person?

      Much food for thought…Lord help us tell the truth (in love), even when it hurts!

      Bless you…
      Athena

    • Well said Janey!

  3. Yes, those family habits, that we’ve grown up thinking were ‘normal’, are not Jesus’ formula for living for Him. Hard to change? You bet. Impossible? Nah, He’s got us covered–PRAISE HIM! I’ve found prayer to be my first step, not my last resort.

    Great post with much to meditate on…thanks for posting! -Cyn–

    • Great point Cyn…too often we wait until we’ve tried everything else and THEN we pray. Or we start with prayer but stop there…we aren’t willing to do the hard work of dealing with our emotions and issues…no wonder we’re such a mess! Athena 🙂

  4. Athena, I love that book. You are absolutely right on – I grew up watching conflict resolved by either yelling, hitting or totally shutting down. I became a chameleon – just tell me what to feel but don’t leave me. It led me down a path of destruction. I am eternally grateful for God’s healing touch and His grace. thanks for posting, I love being a part of your healing journey!

    • Thanks Marilyn…it’s nice to have you along on the journey! So much to learn as we walk together through our brokenness…Big hug to you my friend! Athena

  5. How many times can you hear in your head,”If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”?I think we’ve taken that too an extreme as christians.It should be clarified to mean that there is never any need to say things that personally attack another person and tear them down.Being truthful in a way that helps in the long run is actually building them up.

    • Amen Melodie…very good point. I believe there’s more examples of ways we have taken things to an extreme to our own demise. I’m thankful for this study and book helping me to see how much of my Christianity has been unhealthy!

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