I’m incredibly fortunate to work full time at a place where my colleagues aren’t just team members but actual friends. Even though we already spend 40 hours a week together, we can often be found hanging out outside of the office and on the weekends. My favorite thing is that, even though we’re in an open office setting and are constantly interacting, you can often walk into the break room to see several lunch tables pushed together so we can sit with one another while we eat. It’s just the best.
And while we do enjoy being around each other basically 24/7, it does sometimes come with some downfalls. As is true in any relationship – friendship, romantic, or familial – the people you’re closest with often are the ones you may butt heads with from time to time. Spending that much time together is bound to bring out a bit of conflict here and there.
In my younger years, I used to back down from any uncomfortable conversations or experiences, not wanting to exit my bubble of safety and harmony. It always seemed like a good idea to just let any bumpiness in friendships or relationships relieve itself but that could only go on for so long. Eventually, feelings of resentment and frustration would seep in, and before too long, distance between myself and the other person was pretty palpable. And if you let it go on long enough, it always felt like you could never go back to the way things were.
Gratefully as I’ve aged, I’ve come to see not only the health in conflict, but also the necessity. If I get into a tiff with a friend or if there is any kind of collision with a colleague, a cycle will begin:
My feelings will get hurt and I’ll pull back a bit. I’ll take some time to process and likely put just a bit of distance between myself and the other person. For the record – I think this part of the cycle is good – it’s healthy to take some time to think through where the breakdown may have occurred and how it can be repaired. However, what happens next is key.
I can either continue to pull away, pretend like nothing happened, but secretly hold onto resentment which will only build over time… OR …I can move toward the other person and step into a conversation that might be uncomfortable. 9/10 the latter action leads to a relationship that is not only stays in tact, but also comes out stronger when it’s all over.
Living in community is good and it is something that we are called to do as believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Community with others, no matter what capacity you may find it in, holds us accountable, allows us to encourage one another, grieve together, and simply survive this thing called life together. It will also inevitably bring conflict. However, if we can continue to move toward one another – in love – in an attempt to intentionally work through struggles as they arise, we’ll come out stronger and closer than before. Lean into conflict. What comes out on the other side is a beautiful communion with one another.