Spiritual formation and conflict…..

As I reviewed the list of labels that I’ve attached to my blog posts, I see that there are 8 on discipleship training and 5 on conflict, as well as 5 on spiritual formation. Most other topics have only 1 or 2 posts. Based on what I’ve observed in attempting to implement discipleship training/spritual formation on the students in the addiction recovery program, conflict goes with the territory. I guess that provides some logic to why I keep writing about these recurring themes.

I think this week I had a breakthrough as I realized that, because of the dynamics of our process – with women constantly entering, progressing, and then preparing to exit our program, usually 1 or 2 at the time, we always have a robust mix of people at differing phases of spiritual and emotional development. That very fact leads to regular conflict in the house. New ones coming in are generally very emotional, touchy, and often angry and resentful, perhaps even paranoid. Those in the middle phase have released significant angst and have begun to learn how to manage their emotions better, depending on Christ more. Those in the late phase are calm and peaceful, stable and capable of providing good examples and leadership (usually). But even then, they can be dragged off track and frustrated by the chaos of new personalities entering the mix. I’ve seen the pattern enough now to begin to recognize it. Now that I’ve realized this, I hope that I will have more patience and grace toward those coming in and be better able to prepare and comfort those who are knocked akilter by new (and generally negative) forces entering the process.

Also, it makes sense that if we are seeking to create an environment where these women can be brought into closer relationship with Christ, we are going to come under attack. Conflict and division are tools satan uses to intefere with that goal.

There is value in learning resilience and accommodation of new personalities. Learning to respond appropriately to negative personalities, even toxic people, helps make life so much less turbulent. It becomes a skill that, once learned, can transfer into making life beyond our program less unsettling.

In the last month I’ve attended a seminar on conflict resolution and read a book on dealing with “dragons”. I can’t seem to get enough of this kind of instruction right now. Does that mean that I am not handling current situations as well as I should or that even more conflict is coming? I suspect both are true.