About a month ago, a woman posted on Facebook about waking up to a sight that she took as a joyful omen for her day—a mama and baby ladybug. At least, that’s what she thought they were. She opined about her love for the creatures, and how she took their sighting to be a sign that good things lay ahead for her day. But when others saw the photo she included with her post, they pointed out a problem she had missed. Those “ladybugs” weren’t ladybugs. They were bed bugs!
I tell her story because it illustrates an important point about conflict. If we want to be peacemakers, then part of what we have to assess is what the lady in the story needed to figure out. What am I dealing with here? How serious is the issue? How important is the relationship of the person or people with whom I am in conflict? Is this a ladybug conflict to where I need do nothing more than let it fly away on its own? Or is this a bedbug conflict to where if I don’t address it it will snack on my skin in my sleep, multiply, and make my life miserable. Do I patiently do nothing or do a I get more assertive in addressing this issue right away before it gets worse.
Peacemaking does not come a one size fits all approach. It takes discernment, asking good questions. Like Jesus urges, we have to count the cost from multiple angles. What is the cost of action? What is the cost of inaction, doing nothing? What kind of response fits the situation? If we engage this conflict, what does winning look like? Is it me/us as victors and others as losers? Is it me/us as losers, choosing to let the other (or the relationship) win? What are the conflicts where the issue is so important that no compromise is appropriate? Are there some battles worth avoiding because nobody wins in the end? Are their ways to turn an adversary into a friend and discover new possibilities where everybody wins?
As followers of Jesus, I pray that we will keep this in mind. Our discipleship is on display in all conflict—big or small, win or lose, or win/win. In all things, especially in how we approach conflict, we are working to honor God.