Select Your Conflict

"You're a Meanie Geanie!" It was the ultimate insult hurled across the room when my brother and I were mad at each other. I don't even remember the three other names but I remember there were a total of four classifications for unacceptable sibling behavior. Meanie Geanie was reserved for the most despicable.

Clearly I did not grow up in a house of fighters. We are stuffers. We are card carrying members of the Conflict Avoider Club. We sweep issues behind large pieces of furniture where they are safely hidden with dust bunnies and can't be seen or discussed.

Whether we lock it under the key of our heart or blab about it on aisle three of the local supermarket, we all have stuff. Whether we avoid it like an IRS audit or post it proudly on our front door, we all have stuff. For years we’ve either fought or fled.

Fight or flight. Science will tell us those are the only options. I flee conflict like it’s the bubonic plague. Others get in there are fight to the death. What if there was a third option? Engagement.

No I’m not talking about the flowery kind that ends with a ring on your hand that reflects light around your car and screams, “He loves me!” I’m referring to engaging your heart and mind in the midst of conflict.

Hope for the “Flight Attendant”

Those of us whose natural inclination is to avoid conflict at all costs I call flight attendants. The moment we sense a conversation or situation beyond our control we disengage. We offer our opponent their choice of coffee, tea or milk – whatever is required to settle the situation and return to peace.

To engage, the Flight Attendant must make a conscious choice to stay and decide to love their opponent enough to speak what dwells in the cavern of the heart. Those words won’t come easily but the choice to speak will take your friendship, marriage or family relationship to a deeper level than we dreamed possible.

Hope for the “Bookie”

Some of us revel in conflict. We enjoy a good fight so much we’ll even take bets on it. We bet on ourselves to win every time. Whether our war is words or wounds we dish out the worst. Instead of being engaged, we become enraged.

To engage, the Bookie must throttle back the emotion and see the person before them through the filter of love. With love in the forefront, the Bookie must choose to stop talking, listen and draw out the depth of the other. In the end we will “win” as we see our relationships enriched.

What about you? Are you a Flight Attendant, a Bookie or a concoction of the two? Wherever we currently land, we can choose a new conflict style – engagement. No longer will we lay awake at night and stew of the conflict not taken. No longer will we live with the regret of reckless words. Instead our emotional well-being will blossom as our relationships become deeper, richer, meaningful.


  1. Wow, late last night i caught up by reading your last two lessons... as i finished "My no, His yes" and began to journal, i heard God explaining to me that i need to communicate better with my husband and once again ask him to pray with me and face things as a team.
    This morning through your beautiful words in " Select Your Conflict" i realize that God wants this lifelong "flight Attendant" to recognize that there are times when instead of just running to the shelter of His wings,I need to love others enough (not just my husband, but my children, and other loved ones) enough to speak what's deep in my heart. So I prayed and asked Him to help me to trust and obey Him and speak the truths that He puts deep in my heart with love, wisdom, and kindness.And that He will use it to deepen not only my relationship, but especially His relationship with each of them. In Jesus name. Amen.
    Shannon, your writing is so precious and I'm grateful that you trust and obey and speak the truths that God has placed deep in your heart with so much love,wisdom, and kindness. God bless you richly.

  2. I've become more of a flight attendant in recent years than I've ever been in my whole life (previously fleeing like a lightning bolt at the first sign of conflict).

    Your words are good ones. Like always. :) You touch a lot of hearts/minds w/your great writing on here.

    1. I'm a natural flight attendant as well but amazing things have happened when I've dared to love enough to engage.

  3. Morning Shannon,
    This is a great post, and it is so true that we need to (like God's word says listen more and speak less, but it is also, so important to be able to share our hearts with our soul mates, children and especially those we are closest too, that is what relationships are all about and without honesty we can never really have the great relationships God wants us to have. You are so right, we need to learn to be engagers not flt attendants or Bookies, unless we are reformed flt attendants or reformed bookies! lol
    Such a good points, because there will always be conflict, and it isn't really a bad thing, it is really a good thing, it just feels bad mainly because of how we deal with it...............
    Thanks for sharing this hon,
    Blessings, Nellie

    1. Love this insight - "it just feels bad because of how we deal with it"! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have laid awake many nights thinking about conflict...I had avoided. This is a good thought to think about, conflict

    1. That's so familiar to me. Been there done that. How much better is it when we lie awake thanking God we engaged instead? :)

  5. Great wisdom here, Shannon. I'm totally a flight attendant, however, just this weekend I actually engaged and the results were fruitful! :)


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