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Monday Musings – Living with Conflict

conflict

It was a Facebook post from a friend of mine that got me thinking about this topic. I was going to make a comment but thought that instead of doing that, I’m dedicating this blog post to him. This is for you friend.

Conflict is inevitable. If you’re human, you will know this all too well. We live in a world where conflict runs rampant. Turn on the news and you’ll know what I mean. Conflict is everywhere.

It is easy to think of conflict as an idea until that conflict becomes personal. Suddenly, conflict becomes real. Now, you have to do something about it because you have no choice but to deal with it. Refusal to deal with it is still dealing with it. Honestly, this has probably been the way that I have dealt with conflict for most of my life. Either I try to avoid it or refuse to deal with it. Both are not the best options… but it sure ranks as my top two responses to conflict.

When we refuse to deal with the conflict, it has a way of forcing us to deal with it. Something will happen that will conjure up previous memories of how someone has wronged you. While the situation might change, your reaction to that person stays the same. I have had to deal with situations in the past when I felt I was wronged or disrespected by a friend. However, during the time that it happened, I didn’t say anything. Silence does not mean that you have forgotten the hurtful words or actions they have done. Fast forward to a different time and place in the future and that same person does the same thing again. This time your reactions seems rather overboard compared to the situation but it’s because you have held on to that anger. As a result, your reaction has doubled or tripled. Refusing to deal with conflict can sometimes exacerbate it instead of diminishing it.

Sometimes, we can’t avoid the person who is the source of our conflict. In my case, we were roommates. We had similar personalities but where we differed, we really differed.  We both knew that there was a problem. He wanted to deal with it but I didn’t. I ended up isolating myself from him and others who were associated with him. That is not the way that conflict should be handled. Eventually, we sat down and we got real. We told each other what bothered us about the other person and how we can minimize future conflict. We got to know one another in a new light. Instead of trying to be understood, we tried to understand each other. I had the privilege of being a groom’s man at his wedding. If you would have told me that a few years earlier, I would have thought it impossible.

I still hate conflict. If anything, my top two responses to conflict hasn’t changed. But I have also learned that conflict can be the best thing that can happen in your relationship if you handle conflict properly. Conflict resolution has the potential to bring two people together in a more intimate and authentic way. However, there are also times when the best way to handle conflict is to part ways amicably and “wish nothing but the best” for that person. Trying to figure out which is the best option requires time, maturity and wisdom.

Whatever happens, conflict is here to stay. The question is: how will you deal with it? Will you let it affect your life in a negative way or will you allow it to be a catalyst for better living? The choice is yours to make.

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The importance of gratitude

friendship

I recently came back from a week-long vacation in Maine with family and friends. It was great to see so many new places and eat delicious food everyday! The shopping wasn’t bad too =) When I got back home, it was great to see text messages from friends wondering if I was back in Ottawa. It’s always nice to be missed. And as I chatted with friends again and resumed normal daily life, I was yet again struck by how absolutely blessed I am to be surrounded by such amazing people. God’s goodness has been manifested to me, so many times, in the form of family and friends. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe it. My treasure will never be found in my bank account (being the perpetual student assures me of that… lolz) nor in the material things I may possess. My greatest jewels are in the relationships I have formed over the years with quite possibly the best people in the world.

If my friends were gold (which they are!), they are definitely 24k. I am surrounded by singers, Masters, lawyers, social media experts, social justice activists, doctors, and all around world changers! It literally boggles my mind that I am surrounded by such amazing people. I honestly can’t believe I get to hang out with them because they are so awesome. People usually pay just to hang out with the kind of people I hang out with and I get to do that for free! Seriously, they are that magnificent =)

Yes, my friends are in society’s standards, super amazing. The jobs they have and the positions they are in are traditionally seen in high regard. But beyond the titles, what makes my friends so amazing is the fact that they are kind, gentle, giving, encouraging, and will do anything and everything to make this world a better place. All of my friends possess this great quality. Which is crazy! How did I find so many amazing people in one lifetime?!?

Because of that, I was reminded about the importance of gratitude. Or as my friend Hélène Campbell (@alungstory) would say… it’s an “attitude with a grrrrr”! (And yes, she has her own Wikipedia page. That’s when you know you’ve arrived lolz) I had the privilege to hear her personal story and how she overcame the adversities that life brings. She overcame it magnificently… and with an immense amount of gratitude. That’s the thing about gratitude: once you live it out, it becomes infectious. Through a series of amazing sequence of events, she received another shot at life as she became a recipient of a double lung transplant. Her campaign to raise awareness about organ donation has garnered the attention of celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ellen Degeneres. But more importantly, her campaign has translated into more and more people signing up to be organ donors. You would think that the story would end there. But since I already mentioned that my friends were amazing, there’s more. She has started a foundation to help out families who are on the waiting list for life-saving organ transplants. To learn more, please go to www.give2live.ca.

God has definitely spoiled me by surrounding me with a great family and great friends. They continually remind me that I am never alone. To have such a great emotional support network is such a blessing! When the lies of loneliness and isolation creeps in, I only have to hear the sound of a text message with an encouraging story, a tweet of a funny joke, or a wall post of the latest dance craze from a friend to make me smile and remind me that I am never alone. I belong to them and they belong to me.

What are you grateful for?