Last May I graduated with a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution. I initially started the class because a) I wanted to get a Masters degree and prove to myself at the ripe age of 46 that I could do it and b) I wanted to understand how to work through conflict better. The program was more than I could have imagined (shout-out to Abilene Christian University and the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution) and set me on a path to address conflict more productively in my own life and to help others through conflict.
Shortly after completing the degree I went through a life change leaving the job I had for 18 years and venturing into the unknown. As things go sometimes, my plans failed and I was in a downward financial spiral for several months. I finally found a new job but it hasn’t been exactly what I expected. What I did expect was conflict in the workplace. What I didn’t expect was the “why” and how it was being handled prior to my arrival. For conflict to be truly resolved, the parties in conflict have to both want to resolve it and both talk to each other. For various reasons I continue to understand better the longer I am here, that isn’t happening and may not ever happen. I understand. I still live in conflict with someone who rather berate me, challenge me and try to drag me into a fight than to sit down and talk as adults. What am I supposed to do with that? As a peacemaker, I want to reconcile with those I’m in conflict with and I want to help others at least resolve the issue if not reach further for reconciliation. However, there are times when at least one party rather fight than reconcile.
I want to help them reach a peaceful ending. I wish I could be a part of many happy endings but sometimes being in the middle means we can only help if help is wanted, otherwise we have to sit and watch. Being in the middle of this conflict may mean I don’t have a position here when it reaches the end of the line. While I don’t want that to happen, I still have a strong desire to help lead these guys into a peaceful settlement. I doubt they will ever fully agree with each other. There is much water under the bridge. My goal is to help them simply let the past be the past, lay it down and only look to today and to the future. Some things are hard to undo but everyday is a fresh start.
I’m in the middle. It’s not where I want to be but it is where God has me now. I hope I can help bring peace and reconciliation where there is hurt. And, I hope I can do it and keep getting a paycheck!
Grace and peace.