34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10: 34-37 NIV
I don’t know about you, but the first time I read this passage I couldn’t help but process some confusion. How could these words proceed from the Prince of Peace? Of course, it is important to realize that the peace that Christ offers is “not merely the absence of strife; it is a peace that means the overcoming of sin and the bringing in of the salvation of God.”
The other interesting thing about this passage is Christ’s implication that we are to anticipate conflict in our closest relationships. As people who deal with our own brokenness that results in destructive coping habits, conflict avoidance is a natural result of wanting to please people and navigate around pain. Avoiding conflict however, can have the unintended consequence of preventing our own growth. I was reminded recently that conflict in my closest relationships is an opportunity for me to discover places of hidden selfishness, resentment and unforgiveness. When I engage it in ways that are healthy I can experience growth and my relationship is enhanced.
Some others choose to deny the existence of conflict in their relationships. A few years ago, my (now) 12-year old daughter put it this way “if you don’t have conflict in your relationship, then it’s not a relationship.” We can sometimes choose to be peace “keepers” instead of peace “makers” (Matthew 5:9).
Are you struggling with how to have healthy conflict in your relationships? Talking to trained counselors or coaches can help you develop good strategies and point you to some good resources that can teach you how to grow in this area.