Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Learning From Conflict

A teacher many years ago told me that the people we have the most struggles with are our biggest gurus. The word “guru” is a telling one, as it means “spiritual guide or leader.” How difficult it is to think of the people who get under our skin as the people best able to help us find part of the truth we seek.

It is through interaction and relationship with others that we have a way of defining ourselves and our place in the world. Human interaction provides the base material for our ability to choose who we want to be, and for remembering ourselves through those choices as divine expressions of never-ending good.

It amazes me when I think about all of the human interactions that I have resisted. I have spent countless hours of my life wanting people to be different. I’ve been so wrapped up in processing some kind of misunderstanding or conflict that I missed out on all of the other good that was going on around me.

Not only does spending my mental energy spinning about what others are doing that I don’t agree with rob me of the joy in my days, it also separates me from my most precious truth, which is that perfect good is behind all that happens.

How can I find the good behind the circumstances in my life when people did not have my best interest at heart? How can I reconcile those times when I was diminished, betrayed, manipulated, or just plain forgotten?

What those times have taught me and continue to teach me is that how I am affected is never about the other person, but about me, and how I choose to show up. What others say, or think, or do is their choice and their expression in that moment. The gift in the struggles I’ve had with other people is that no matter how unfair things are or how pushed I feel, I am provided with an opportunity to choose the truth that I will serve.

That most holy gift of choice allows me to strive to understand where another person is coming from, to stay or to walk away, or to take a clear and open stand to address a change that I feel is important. I can choose to remember that all is happening for good, and to be the best “good” that I can be. In those moments, when I can remember, I am God reveling in her own remembering.

Allowing interpersonal struggles to help us grow spiritually means getting past right and wrong, and finding a way to accept what is. Given the very different lenses that people see things through, we will never completely understand what drives other people’s actions. When we can trust that challenges are happening for an as-yet-unseen purpose, we step back from blame and make room for the best and highest outcome.

I’m learning, in my most challenging interactions with others, to entertain the possibility that there is something important in it for me, something I’ve likely been waiting a very long time to remember!

May you find all-encompassing good in your struggles, and may this tool be a blessing. . .


  1. Undoubtedly, we can learn and grom through our troubles and trials. We also can learn something from almost anyone. And sometimes we might stay away from those that really can help us.

  2. Whether directly or indirectly, we are always learning. Be open to the lessons and we continue to grow. Thank you Sherry...for the refreshing read!

  3. found this article very insightful and as i read it it helps me to confirm that all that we go through in life whether good or bad helps us in our journey and also to find out who we are,thank you for this sherry

    <3 mj