No one enjoys conflict. Confrontation is generally an affront. All of us bristle at someone else taking issue with a behaviour or self expression. These things are normal. But, what if they didn’t have to be a threat? What if we were so mature that our insecurity dissolved and the arguments and tension dissipated into conversations that encouraged growth, and intimate knowledge of each other, fostering love and support, even community?
The present cultural climate seems to have us abandoning relational ship over misunderstandings or ideological incongruencies. We don’t stick around long enough to work anything out because we assume the intent of the other is to wound. I know many physical experiences that we expect to find painful on the road to healing. Tiny things like releasing the contents of a pimple, extracting a sliver, pulling gravel out of a scraped knee, treating a burn. Larger things like setting a bone, childbirth, or removing a tumour. All of these things have a healing process, and generally, the need for another person to be a part of the journey. Our emotional and spiritual traumas are no different. We often don’t realize there is a wound until someone gets close enough to press on the wound. That requires relationships. Conflict, is, essentially, the operating room of the inner maze that weaves our being together.
I’ve learned, in my own healing journey, too much about trauma, as well as how much influence we have over our own life and healing, for silence to be my norm in conflict. I cannot enrich my relationship if I walk away from awkward interpersonal interactions. I can’t know someone else fully, we can’t be part of each other’s healing experience. Our wounds isolate us when we control our environment to avoid the ones we’ve allowed to fester. If I am going to heal, I am going to have to listen to my own spirit as well as the expression of another. Triggers deserve enough time spent in introspection so that we understand why they are there. Poor responses are not part of our personality. People are not “just like that” because it is their innate design to be either abrasively controlling or insecure. Knowing leads to growing and healing.
I’ve realized how much we hide behind our “biblical expectations” of God when we grow up evangelical. We wait for him to heal us of things that we have the power to muddle through. We expect other people to coddle us so we don’t have to grow, often asking forgiveness for poor behaviour and following it with a “humble” admission that we have asked God to help us be more loving, and implying that he is still working on us… if only we understood that finding our place in Christ means working out our salvation (healing), not dragging others, fearfully, into an ambiguous heaven for “eternity.” Living in Love and moving in peace and joy tends to draw others into holy connection and awareness anyway… without the awkward fear of hell.
We have been given everything we need for physical and spiritual life, on this beautiful planet. All the gifts we need to heal exist in the community we are worked into - including triggers to make us go within and see our own issues. If we are not at peace, it is because we should not be. Either our boundaries have been pushed by someone else’s poor ones, or ours have been in the wrong spot because of a past trauma that went unaddressed, and we are now treading on someone else’s ground to protect ourselves. Sometimes it’s even a physical wound that we didn’t respond to properly - grieve through, or give our body the tools to heal from. We do need to sort through the experiences we have in life. Things happen to us. Family culture influences our view of ourselves, makes us question and manipulate our innate design. Traumatic events have ways of causing us to tailor our future interactions so that we don’t get hurt again.
I have found it interesting that in taking inventory of one’s gifts, aptitudes, or personality, researchers who have assessed, categorized, and subsequently created “tests” to help us understand ourselves, the questions often use both positive and negative behavioural patterns to reveal one’s placement in the given spectrum. If it wasn’t possible to wound a person at the level of their blue print in a way that predictably and indefinitely alters the way they function in relationships and situations, this wouldn’t be necessary. However the design of a human being is not that they are going to be basically offensive or unkind to anyone. The very necessity of these balanced tools are evidence of the widespread trauma we accumulate as we move through life along with those who either choose not to know us, and prefer to manage those around them to protect themselves, or, just don’t possess the maturity or tools to love others avoiding to their unique bent. Every strata of the original culture one is born into has the power to help or hinder our growth and development. Every person experiences each influence and event differently. I think this is why the happiest people are those who are constantly engaged in connective relationships, perpetually learning, and deliberately healing and fostering deep spirituality. We cannot control the environment we are born into, but as we mature, we can learn to create a personal petri dish in which we are free to thrive on our own terms, according to our needs.
If you have felt that culture hasn’t shaped you at all, consider this: our western religious system has a, “wait, and beg god to move,” mentality, and our medical system centres around rescue remedies, coping therapies and, in some cases, comfort until death options. Considering we were designed for authentic, abundant, eternal life, a lot of our experience in the current climate should be increasingly unsettling as we awaken into our true, limitless identity. We were created for imitate, unbroken, constant communication with our Source. Every system we have in place at the moment, is asking us to be outsourced rather than insourced. This can make us feel like in order for things to be in alignment internally, circumstances have to be manipulated, and therefore people need to make space for us to remain stagnant until our external climate caters to our inner safety. We can spend a long time waiting for someone else to unlock our inner mysteries, especially with the human tendency to cordon off pain in the dark recess of the heart, creating suffering instead of uninhibited freedom.
We cannot heal without the messiness of relationships. They are a gift to us. Being at peace with all men doesn’t mean perpetual deferment and abdication from our convictions. That is inauthentic living and it carries consequences for both the one accommodating and the one expecting it. Because we live in the petri dish of our own thoughts… creating our own environment or personal eco system, we leave our body vulnerable to degeneration. The physical state of our being is the mirrored expression of our inner climate. When we struggle to control another’s behaviour in order to avoid dealing with our own trauma, we pollute their environment. Such an endeavour is a bit like overloading an elevator and expecting it to function properly. We are designed to carry things together, yes, but not to place our burdens in the lap of another and continue to do so until they break. Like that elevator groaning and hesitating, the people around us may be showing us their own breaking point in small outburst, tears on the surface, displays of anxiety, or just plain evasive conversation or physical avoidance. Sometimes that is the wounds of one bumping up against the wounds of another and smarting a bit. However, if this happens a lot in your relationships, it’s probably a good plan to sit with that response and learn which of your wounds may be speaking in place of your heart. Courage isn’t displayed in protective offence despite fear, but rather in a vulnerability that owns our insecurities and seeks healing for them. We do not have to gain control of a situation in order to keep control of ourselves. We need to understand why we are afraid of losing control. It’s ok to be scared. It’s not ok to live perpetually afraid.
Love doesn’t seek control. Love wants to know the depths of a person and heal the wounds, not cover them and let them fester. Love deliberately looks for the beauty in another, and simultaneously seeks to help the other see their inherent capabilities and strengths. It asks one to grow up and into who they truly are.
Triggered? Don’t run. Embrace it. Sit with it. At least until you understand why. Don’t worry, Love sits with you. And she wants to. She understands healing is the cost of peace.