Over the years I’ve witnessed many families and friendships devastated by conflict.
I’ve observed how such people tend to position themselves as enemies, sparring with each other, inciting resentment, anger, indifference, or revenge. All are wounded, some deeply. Some for a lifetime.
So I don’t recommend sparring with your enemies. Murder them instead.
But before you go off and commit a capital offense, I’d like to redefine “the enemy.” Because I think we get this wrong.
Usually, those of us in conflict view the other person as the enemy, hurting them, correcting them, resisting them, or simply avoiding them. The outcome of this is that both parties end up even more wounded and the original conflicts actually end up compounded.
A better solution seems to be to declare the enemy to be the relational wall between you. Make the wall the real problem, not the person on the other side of it.
So how do you murder this true enemy, the wall between you? Here’s my 10-step battle plan.
- Stop focusing so much on how the other person needs to apologize, accept responsibility, change, or conform to your expectations. These things may be better addressed and received once the wall is down.
- Choose to be Unoffendable.
- Start talking about how awful it is to have a wall between you. How you hate being disconnected relationally. How you long for both of you to get to a place where you can be a blessing to one another. How you desire a lifetime of mutual enjoyment of one another rather than one of perpetual wounding.
- Express your commitment to begin removing the relational bricks that you contribute to the wall.
- Humbly ask the other person to identify the bricks they’d like you to remove.
- Listen. Seek to understand.
- Change what you can. Explain what you can’t.
- Always treat the other person with kindness, as a person you care about rather than a problem that you want fixed.
- When they’re ready, gently let the other person know what changes they might make that would be helpful to you, i.e. what bricks they may have unknowingly added to the wall and how they might remove them.
- Stay attentive to the condition of the wall and — as a team — keep working away at removing bricks one at a time.
Once you’ve set those bricks on the ground you’ll find instead that there’s now something else between you — a bridge! The wall will have been completely obliterated.
And those are murders I love to witness!