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
- 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!