conflict

5 Aug

Prepare. Pounce. Present.

The skill I chose to work on was judgment.
I can be really horrible about judging in a few different ways, so I knew it would be perfect to work on for me.
1. I judge situations before I have all the facts.
2. I judge others on their ability to work with me in any issue.
3. I judge myself critically, which often leads to me not believing in myself.

It’s funny how once you learn something, you start seeing it everywhere. Over the last week especially, I have seen conflict in so many different forms, many of which I had never realized existed before.

I chose to read the talk “Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others” by Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer, given in the April 2010 General Conference. I learned a lot of really great things that helped me gain perspective when dealing with conflict.

His opening story was especially inspiring, and helped me with the first issue: judging situations.

“The story is often told of the time when Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany with their brother, Lazarus. It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home. During one of His visits, Martha was busy preparing a meal and Mary elected to sit at the Master’s feet to receive His instruction…”But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? … And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I feel like that could say, “Karen, Karen, thou art careful and troubled about many things…” I worry about everything, good or bad, big or small. But the advice that the Savior gives is that one thing is needful, “and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
There is much to be learned from conflict for every person involved. The situation is almost never as grave as I initially deem it. This week I learned to stop worrying so much about things that seem horrible in the moment, because in less than two hours, office hours will be over, and life will go on. Yes, the work still needs to be done, but there will always be work to be done. That will never change. Each example of conflict is only one situation, and if I can solve it, then great! If not, then life will go on. The way I see it, so far, everything has worked out. Why should I expect for the future to continue differently?

Yesterday I ran into a problem with one of my ACs. I tried not to stress out about it, but the dread inevitably came and I became worried that things might not work out the way that I would like them to. In the same day that one of my ACs told me he would not be returning, I was blessed with interest from two other people in being an AC. I didn’t have all the facts about the situation before I started worrying, but it all worked out anyway, in fact, it worked out better than I would have hoped.

The next story Elder Schwitzer tells is about when Christ taught Martha about the Resurrection, and her powerful testimony is shared. He says the following about this judgment incurred in the scriptures,
“Many a sister has often heard the first story and wondered if she were a Mary or a Martha, yet the truth lies in knowing the whole person and in using good judgment. By knowing more about Martha, we find she was actually a person of deep spiritual character who had a bold and daring testimony of the Savior’s mission and His divine power over life. A misjudgment of Martha may have caused us not to know the true nature of this wonderful woman.”

I am AWESOME about making snap judgments of people I don’t know and then acting on them. I won’t be rude or snippy, but I might be condescending with my opinion or less trusting of their input. I don’t allow myself to learn from everyone around me very readily.

I have had two experiences this week that have forced me to open myself up to others and to let them into my life, hasty judgments and all. On Monday night I had a conversation with someone who was able to see the bigger picture. I had another similar conversation with the same person tonight. Both experiences were overwhelming in the amount of goodness, strength and knowledge that I felt and gained. But what would have happened if I had not trusted her? Would I have ever asked for her help in solving my problem? What if my initial judgments about her had been negative and had interfered with my ability to get to know “the true nature of this wonderful woman?” The more time I spend in BYUSA, the more I completely believe that there is something to learn from every single person you meet. I have to suspend those judgments that mean nothing and are completely selfish in order to allow myself to be blessed by those interactions.

Finally, I am very guilty of judging myself critically. Elder Schwitzer says, “Good judgment is needed not only in understanding people but also in facing decisions that often lead us to or away from our Heavenly Father. As I look back over my own personal life, I can see many instances in which a slight change of course based on poor judgment would have led me far from where the Lord wanted me to be—decisions like having a family while obtaining an education, being active in all aspects of the gospel, paying tithes and offerings when income was severely limited, and accepting callings at difficult times, which helped me to understand more about sacrifice. Many blessings in life are missed because worldly judgment was applied to what was really a spiritual decision.”

He offers four guidelines that I tried to employ this week, and that I will continue to work on. I have noticed so many opportunities for growth just from following these four principles.

1. Put your own personal standards in alignment with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Listen to the messages of the living prophet.
3. Cultivate with the Holy Spirit a relationship of listening.
4. Keep the commandments.

In doing what I know I am supposed to be doing, there comes a confidence that is unmatched in power. When I do all that I can to invite and maintain the Spirit, I can recognize my own potential and do what I know I need to do. The hardest part for me was realizing that when I am doing what I should, there is no need to criticize myself. Sometimes it seems like the tasks given me are not bold or pretty or fun or inspiring, but my perceived quality of the task should have no influence whatsoever on the way that I accomplish it. The Lord knows what He needs me to do, and if it’s enough for Him, then it’s enough for me.

Most of all I learned that conflict is healthy, especially because it stretches the soul and expands the mind. It allows you to be flexible in your growth and reinforce your convictions. There is a lot of good to be found in seemingly awful places, but in order to find it, judgment must be suspended.

I taught this principle to my sister as she was struggling with one of her future roommates. She seems really weird and freaky, but I tried to tell her that there is no way she will be able to have a good experience and be friends with her if that is the only perception she is willing to adopt. We had a great discussion about being less judgmental towards others, and it really helped me to define what I had learned by exercising good judgment instead of self-serving and easy judgment.

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One Response to “conflict”

  1. Tamara Gray August 5, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    Nicely done, Karen! Thanks for being so thorough. I think you learned a lot this week. Even though these prompts took a little extra effort on your part, I hope you found them to be worth it!

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