I tend to be pretty biased toward myself when in conflict. I don’t like conflict, but when I am caught up in it I tend to more clearly see my own points of justification, rather than the other person’s. It’s easy to understand myself (most of the time). I am aware of my feelings and desires, as well as issues and dislikes. When something rubs me the wrong way, I feel it. When I disagree with someone’s viewpoint, I want to make my perspective heard, especially if I value it enough or feel passionately about the subject. Not only that, but I have a fierce need to protect myself.
As a 9 (peacemaker) on the Enneagram, I can see all angles and sides, but I still favor my side of the argument. There’s a pridefulness that goes along with that; I can see where the other is coming from, but I do not give their view as much weight as what I think I deserve. Eeek. That is hard to admit, but it is true. And obviously, the more right I feel, the more dangerous I become. I feel more entitled to speak the way I want to speak and say the things I want to say. I am looking out for me and am even more demanding from the other person. It’s a fast downhill ride from there.
There are some occasions when the Lord intervenes to show me a different way. He invites me to be for the other person as much as or more than I am for myself. Can I see them? Feel for them? Attune to their issues/dislikes/ triggers as much as I do for myself? It takes slowing down. It takes listening to His Spirit. It takes fully looking at the other person instead of having blinders on to only see myself. It requires me to choose love and surrender my will. It means that their voice gets to be heard over mine. It means that I power down when I am tempted to power up. I need to get quieter instead of louder. I need to depend on the Lord instead of myself. I have to trust Him to protect me instead of relying on my own defenses, demands, or attacks.
It helps me to look to the cross to see how Jesus—in His humanity—did not want to be hurt, but He did not protect Himself. He pleaded with His Father, but also surrendered His will out of love for the other. He absorbed the conflict of sin without bias to Himself. He trusted His Father and bred grace, reconciliation, and redemption.
Mollie Souza is a Counselor for The Barnabas Center. She has her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee where she majored in Spanish as well as her Master of Arts in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is especially passionate about helping individuals who are working through grief, doubts, trauma, relationships, anxiety, depression, self-esteem/identity issues, seasons of loneliness, family of origin issues, and divorce.