Many strange paradoxes are emerging with COVID-19.
One woman recently described quarantine life with her husband in her hilarious assessment on Facebook, “At first it was really nice, like one long weekend. But this entire experience has made me very much aware that I want a man in my life, just not in my house.”
Our appreciation for human connection has deepened. But annoyances that we might otherwise brush off are wearing on us.
Biblical counselor Kristin Silva of Oregon encourages Christians to look for opportunities for growth in the midst of annoyances and any resulting conflicts.
“During this crisis, we have less bandwidth to absorb things that we might normally brush aside,” Silva said. “We feel a little more justified in our selfishness which makes it harder to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Become a better listener.
One basic step that can bring growth when conflict strikes is to become a better listener.
“Learn to ask good questions, as well as good follow-up questions. Be intentional to speak less, and pause an extra second or two before you speak,” Silva said.
Being a good listener is a practical way that we look out for the interests of others like Philippians 2:4 says, Silva points out.
“To be a good listener, we need to nurture a heart of selflessness and pursue a growing interest in others over ourselves,” Silva said.
2. Appreciate what makes your loved one unique
Diversities in personality, experiences, and preferences are usually a significant contributing factor to disagreements.
“We often hit bumps because we are different,” Silva said. “It’s helpful to view conflict not just as a place to work through something, but also as a place to know and understand our loved ones better.”
Understanding how our loved ones are different helps us to appreciate them in new ways.
“While there may be sin woven through that difference, there’s likely something lovely about the way your loved one is not like you,” she explained. “So start there. Look for the good being reflected in your loved one. And if you can’t see it, then you know this is where you need to ask more questions.”
The best questions to ask are the ones that uncover what your loved one values and what matters most to him or her.
“From there begin to look for what’s hard for your loved one. What’s the unique contour of your loved one that made this situation particularly difficult for them?” Silva said. “Ask yourself how the struggles of our current crisis and the situation in your home play into their reaction.”
Silva says that once we have good and robust answers, we ready to move to the difficult part—what hurt or frustrates.
3. Enjoy the Gospel more fully
Unresolved conflict reminds us of the deep sting that results from not being fully connected to those we love. During those times, it’s important to remind ourselves a greater truth.
“Conflict is an opportunity to revel in the gospel—that in Christ we don’t live with a wall of hostility between us like Paul mentions in Ephesians 2. We’ve been reconciled to the Father and reconciled to one another,” Silva said.
4. Grow in wisdom
Conflict provides ways we can assess if we are walking in wisdom or not.
“In Proverbs the characteristics that fuel conflict are attributed to the fool. He is wise in his own eyes. He takes no pleasure in understanding but only in speaking his own opinion. He gives an answer before he hears. He is hasty in his words,” Silva points out.
In conflict we have an opportunity to replace our foolish behaviors with wise ones.
“On the flip side, listen to how Proverbs describes wisdom in speech and relationships: ‘The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel,’ ” Silva aid. “When we seek to grow in knowledge of our loved ones, our words accumulate relational riches.”
In order to learn more about our loved ones, we have to realize our perspective of others is often skewed.
“Proverbs 3:6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding,” Silva said. “That means we can’t come into a situation thinking we understand it perfectly. We need to lean on the Lord.”
5. Grow in humility
In order to truly listen and understand another person, we have to be aware of pride.
“If our goal is to grow in wisdom and humility, then certainly pride will undo us at every turn,” Silva said. “Pride is self-exaltation and blinds us not only to our own weaknesses but also to the strengths of others. Pride encourages us to rehearse the wrongs done to us and fuels our own rightness.”
Kristin Silva lives in the Pacific Northwest, but provides Biblical counseling to clients all over the USA via Zoom. You can reach her here.