The In-BetweenNicole Unice shares five tips to get you started on your own miracle moments.
“I do NOT know what to do,” said Melanie, who flopped down on the couch, scattering Bibles and pens. “The situation with Justin and Becca is NOT getting better!” We were at the beginning of our high school small group, preparing to read the night’s Bible passage, but Melanie’s conflict could not wait. Jasmine, always the compassionate member of the group, gave Melanie a side hug, and when I finally caught Melanie’s eye, her face fell and she teared up. “I just don’t know what to say. Every practice is the same, and I feel caught in the middle between the two of them. I want to tell the truth and tell them both to stop gossiping about each other to me, but I just …” Melanie trailed off and swiped at her tears. “I just hate to disappoint people!”
Melanie’s story might sound familiar to you. Anyone who has worked through the complicated world of relationships—whether your parents, siblings, romantic relationships or friends—knows that it can be really tough to handle things when they don’t go right. Most of us, even adults, want to shrink away, play nice or withdraw when the going gets tough. Learning how to handle conflict isn’t easy, but it can be worth it.
Miracle moments are those times when you are in the middle of a conflict, and instead of giving up, shutting up or blowing up, you lean in instead. It’s isn’t easy, but it is possible (and worth it!). Here are five tips to get you started on your own miracle moments:
1. Decide Who You Want To Be
Who are you becoming? Who do you want to be? God has called us to be growing in forgiveness, compassion, grace and truth. When we focus on who God is calling us to be, we can stop reacting to circumstances and start responding out of who we want to become.
2. Curious, Not Condemning
The next time you get frustrated or upset, be curious about your reaction. Listen to yourself—are you scared? Insecure? Angry? Like Melanie, do you feel conflicted about wanting people’s approval? When we turn up the curiosity and turn down the condemnation, we can evaluate our own actions and responses in a way that leads to growth.
3. Not Right, Not Wrong
When you find yourself frustrated with a situation you are in, try to avoid immediately judging who’s right and who’s wrong. Instead, ask yourself, “what might God be teaching me in this situation?” In Melanie’s situation, she began to see that much of her tension came from her own fear about disappointing her friends. Asking the question, “what’s the most loving and truthful next step?” allowed her to speak up for herself and for the good of her friends.
4. Seek to Understand
When someone is mad at or frustrated with you, most of us immediately become defensive. We shift into excuses mode or explaining our intent or actions first. But oftentimes, we miss opportunities for real connection and growth when we are so busy explaining away someone’s experience. Instead, seek to understand—listen first. Ask follow up questions. Trying to understand how someone else’s experience with you—even if you don’t agree—creates the potential for both you and them to grow.
5. Own All That You Can
(But not more than what you can.) Once we’ve learned to listen to ourselves and listen to others, we can choose humility and forgiveness as our posture with others. If someone is frustrated or hurt by us and we choose to listen to their side of the story, we can then own all of the conflict that we can. Owning all that you can looks like validating how you might have made someone feel; offering a sincere apology goes a long way.
When Melanie confronted Becca about her issues with gossip, Becca didn’t respond well. She got defensive and told Melanie how hurt she was by Melanie’s growing friendships in her small group. Melanie owned all that she could. She responded by apologizing for the way she missed how much her friend needed her. But she didn’t own more than she could. She didn’t apologize for being in a small group or for having different friends—but she did invite Becca to the next group. Melanie chose a position of humility and forgiveness with Becca and even if Becca doesn’t take her up on the offer, she did all that she could to love her friend with both grace and truth.
Conflict can either create connection or distance, closeness or distrust, harmony or resentment. Let your next conflict lead you closer to Christ and deeper into who you are becoming—and discover that God has a miracle waiting for you right in the middle of that next frustration or hurt.
For Further Study
For more help knowing how to navigate yourself and other people in healthy, loving ways, check out the following resources:
- The Miracle Moment and The Miracle Moment Bible Study by Nicole Unice
- Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff
- Let’s Be Real with Nicole Unice: a podcast on healthy relationships
Nicole is a pastor and author who helps people grow in a healthy faith that leads to healthy relationships. She’s a frequent podcast guest and hosts her own podcasts, Let’s Be Real and How to Study the Bible. Find Nicole on socials @nicoleunice or at her website, nicoleunice.com.