Conflict

“In fact, the conflict itself is creative and perhaps should never be healed.”

~ Thomas Moore

Very often men seek to remove conflict. At times that’s the best move to make. But hoping for an end to all conflict is unrealistic. Conflict is natural; it’s part of living in community rather than isolation.

When conflict arises, I can take it as a great opportunity to practice my skills. I can explore, appreciate, and learn from each circumstance. If someone flirts with my wife, I get to practice handling my jealousy and anger. In a disagreement with a coworker, I can practice seeking a task in a new way. If my teenage son wants to dye his hair purple and put a ring in his nose, I get to practice tolerance and compromise.

No matter how disagreeable on the outside, every conflict has a delicious sweet at its core – a great teaching hidden in its middle. To pray that a conflict will disappear before it has done its work on me will only lead me further into darkness. To meet conflicts with an enthusiastic good nature, to work at each one until I discover its hidden teaching, is to live wisely and fully.

Today I accept the presence of conflict in my life. I have the choice to embrace conflicts, to learn from them, to use them to grow.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Learning Patience

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

~ Hal Borland

Men learned how to wait long ago. We waited on our parents to approve of us, to love us as we were, to stop drinking, or just to come home from work and give us their attention. Failing that, we waited until we could leave home. We’ve waited on promotions that never came. We’ve waited for answers to our discontent.

We wait, but not patiently. Patience remains a way of being that eludes most of us. Yet we need patience with our healing process, patience with our children. We want to be patient with a spouse who’s trying to recover, one day at a time. We need patience with people in general: the slow driver ahead of us, the person with too many items in the “express” checkout. For this kind of patience, we also need our sense of humor back. And most of all, we need to have patience with ourselves as we learn new ways of relating to and communicating with each other.

Patience is more than a virtue. It’s a necessity if we’re ever going to experience serenity that lasts longer than a few minutes.

Today I renew my effort to treat people I love, and even the people who are strangers to me, with patience and tolerance. I will let them move at their own pace, not mine.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul