By Grace Mitchell
In today’s gospel Jesus gives me a step-by-step, orderly guide to conflict resolution: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Yet how many times have I disregarded His advice in favor of following my own?
For most of my life, I turned to gossip when I felt I had been wronged.
Venting to another party came more easily to me than confronting the problem directly. Without realizing it, I had prioritized my own comfort over my relationships with others. More than that, though, for years I had been prioritizing my own pride over my relationship with God.
Telling my brother his fault is an uncomfortable request.
Jesus knows that this requires immense vulnerability and honesty of me. But He doesn’t ask me to solve conflicts in this way because He wants me to feel awkward or so that He can watch me mess up. Jesus asks me to confront problems directly because He knows this is how I become truly reconciled with my brothers and sisters, and this is how I can grow more into the woman I’m called to be.
I’ve turned to gossip so readily because it felt easier, but in the end, gossip usually multiplied the conflicts I had, and often left me more at fault than those who had wronged me to begin with. The gossip I spread came back to me, along with feelings of betrayal and dismay from the friends I had spoken against.
Worse still, I sometimes found myself in the middle of what seemed like an endless stream of gossip.
I was left afraid of interacting with those around me, convinced that its only end was to dive deeper into gossiping. What started as an “easy” solution had grown until it had consumed my relationships; I had set such a precedent for gossiping that it became expected of me, making it that much harder to avoid. I know now that I was a slave to this sin, and that in my attempts to avoid discomfort I was really avoiding communion with God.
Jesus desires so much more for me than slavery.
In the Book of John, He says, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus’ approach to conflict forces me to confront those who have wronged me as well as my own pride, but, when I follow His advice over my own, I open myself up to freedom. I allow my relationships with others to grow in depth and virtue. I can see myself more and more as the Father sees me: not a slave to sin but rather a beloved daughter. More than that, though, being honest in my relationships with others trains me for a greater honesty and vulnerability in my relationship with Him.
I still slip up and gossip at times
my years of conflict avoidance have made this a difficult habit to break... but by recognizing this sin for what it is and striving to follow Jesus’ advice over my own, I continue to become my true self.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Mitchell has a BA in English from the University of South Alabama. She enjoys bike rides, poetry, and spirited theological discussions. She is currently a missionary through the Community of the Beatitudes, and you can read more about her adventures at beatitudesmissions.org/blog