Candace Nassar

Welcome, everyone. Today on our MomQ Mingle, we’re talking about peacekeeping. What does it look like and how is it different from what our culture practices? We’re also going to address what the Bible has to say about it and talk about some practical ways that we can be peacemakers in our homes, particularly now that the kids are out of school. I’m excited because joining Annie and I today is Julie Whitehurst, the other member of our three-person MomQ teaching team. Last year Julie shared an amazing message that was really popular. It was called “How to be a Peacemaker”. And so we’ve asked her to come on the show today and share some of her great insights. And Julie, I’m just going to introduce you for just a second. She has been married for 30 years. Is that right, Julie?

Julie Whitehurst

32.

Candace Nassar

32? Oh, okay. I’m off. 32 years. And she has three adult children. One has been married for a couple of years, and then her daughter is getting married in August. Very exciting time. So welcome on, Julie. We’re so glad to have you with us.

Julie Whitehurst

Yes. Thank you. It’s good to be here. I do have one more child right in the middle of the two.

Candace Nassar

I was talking about marriage, but yes, I forgot about that. Yes. We’ll be fine.. Yes. Three kids. Absolutely. So how is the wedding planning coming, Julie?

Julie Whitehurst

Oh, it’s so fun. It’s going really well. Thank you for asking. We haven’t really gotten to the frantic father-of- the-bride part yet. So I’m hoping that we can avoid that, but we’ll see. But really, we’re just enjoying having her home for these last two months before we send her off to the world of marriage.

Candace Nassar

That’s so precious. “We’re having a good time.” I love that. Yeah. Very, very good. Okay. Well, and so Annie, I know, Julie, that’s what you’re doing this summer for sure. That’s your whole summer. Yes, it is. Annie, how’s your summer going so far?

Annie Mendrala

Well, my summer is going great. I just got back from a Level One, Murray Method Trauma Egg Training. Oh my goodness. So I just spent the past five days just learning a method of trauma resolution, of how to come from difficult spaces in our life to healthy, wise, balanced people, which is the goal of my life. And I know that’s what we want to teach the moms out there, is how to become a healthy,  nice, balanced person despite whatever is in the past.

Candace Nassar

God is so good that you would go to that. And then we are having this conversation about peacemaking and conflict resolution. So I can’t wait to hear what you have to say today. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing. Great. Well, I’m glad you were able to do that. And then my summer, I  just got back from two weeks in Spain with my entire family and my two sons, my daughter-in-law, my daughter and my husband, all spent two weeks over there. We had the best time, honestly, life-changing time. But it’s also interesting because we had a bit of a petri dish for our conflict resolution strategies. It’s just the way it is when you have your family together. There’s definitely going to be moments when things get a little edgy. So I’m excited to share some of that as well. Okay, so it’s going to be a great conversation today. When we meet as a teaching team, we always have to cut ourselves off. We can talk for hours and hours, right? So we’re going to have to… I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting conversation. So let’s get to it. So the main purpose of our Mom Q Mingle has been to share, compare truth, God’s truth, to trends in our culture.

Candace Nassar

And since we’re talking about peacemaking this month, let’s start by establishing what a Peacemaker is, according to the Bible. So in Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ‘ ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers. ‘ So there’s a lot to unpack there, a lot to unpack. So let’s start by saying that there is a continuum of handling conflict. There’s avoiders completely avoiding conflict on one end, and then on the other end are the attackers. And then in the middle is where the peacemakers are. Those are what Jesus would call the ministers of reconciliation, following biblical principles to deal with conflict in their lives and encouraging it between others. And peacemakers help heal broken relationships, just as Christ did for us when he reconciled us to God by paying the penalty for our sins. And so when we think about being peacemakers, we know we first have to have a right relationship with God and have peace with God and believe in the atoning sacrifice that His Son made for us. This gives us peace in our hearts. We don’t have to carry around that guilt and shame, and we can bring peace and make peace with other people, or we’re supposed to anyway.

Candace Nassar

But relationships, as we know, are hard and they’re messy. But we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit once we trust Christ, and so we can make peace. It makes me think of your favorite verse, Julie, that I know you’ve mentioned a number of times, Romans 12:18. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Alright. So I’ve said a lot, and let me get your thoughts, Annie. What would you add to that?

Annie Mendrala

Yeah, I love that God says, “blessed are the peacemakers”. And as I think about relationships and how I, personally, we were thinking about how am I a peacemaker? Or a peace-avoider. It’s interesting. One of the tools I learned over the past couple of days is the Cartman triangle, and it’s really how we inappropriately interact with each other. Three unhealthy ways that we deal with conflict is, one, we either try to be the hero, solve all the problems, we’re going to rescue everyone. Two, we become the victim, and so then we withdraw in an, “Oh, poor me”, or we become the victimizer, where we start attacking. So we can “hero up”, which I call codependency. We can become a victim, where we withdraw in, Oh, “poor me”, or we can become a victimizer, where we start persecuting. And really, of all three of those, none of those work. They’re all unhealthy. But those tend to be in the unhealthy cycle. So I’m excited we’re talking about what’s a different way? How can we be different? How can we be different?

Candace Nassar

Yeah. So you’re saying, Annie, that you are a conflict avoider.

Annie Mendrala

I am a conflict avoider. I learned in my childhood, the way I dealt with the chaos around me is I withdrew. I became as small as I possibly could because I didn’t want to add to the tension. And so that was my response in my trauma was to avoid and to conceal, don’t feel.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And I would say that we’ve talked about this even on our last Mom Q, Mingle. We both grew up in trauma. My reaction to the trauma I grew up in is exactly the opposite. I modeled what I saw and became an attacker. And I don’t mean to, but it’s just… And I don’t want to, and I’m always really sorry, but that’s just the way I respond, my natural inclination. So I think it’s important our listeners know where we’re coming from. Julie, what would you say? How do you handle conflict?

Julie Whitehurst

I think I would have to fall in the attacker category. Mostly, I think I did not grow up with trauma. I didn’t grow up with parents who fought or argued, but I often felt like I didn’t have a voice. So I think what I have carried into now is making sure over and over again that my voice is said and that this is why I’m right. So I think that would fall in the attacker category.

Candace Nassar

Okay. That’s very insightful. So when we think about handling conflict, we’re talking about the continuum, the way most people handle conflict. And like we said, a lot of it comes from how we grew up because we don’t really learn how to manage conflict. What do we do in our culture? What is the typical response or way that we handle disagreements? I mean, we have our own styles, but just what’s culturally accepted? Let’s talk about that for a second. Annie, what would you say?

Annie Mendrala

This is interesting because I know that I’m doing prison work. I’m constantly sitting in circles of people who have been in some conflict, and that is what has led them to the place that they are living. And typically, a common response to conflict is to get offended and to either cut somebody off, you’re a “dead to me” attitude, or to  persecute.

Candace Nassar

So get revenge.

Annie Mendrala

Get revenge. That’s the word I was looking for.

Candace Nassar

Revenge just seems so natural, and yet the Bible is clear that we’re not to seek revenge.

Annie Mendrala

Revenge can be really passive. It doesn’t have to be an attack. So as an “avoider”, I realized I heard a saying that “silence is consent”. And so if I think I’m just going to remain silent and not address the conflict, then really what I’m doing is I’m consenting to it. And that was really convicting for me because I thought, well, I’m just avoiding it. I’m like, no, you’re consenting.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And then some other reactions, I guess you could say of conflict would be, we talk about violence. I mean, obviously, people end up in prison. It’s some violent response or revenge. Another one in our culture is keyboard rage. I mean, that’s a real thing. I don’t know if it’s called that anymore, but that’s a great term.

Annie Mendrala

I heard that, but I like it. I’m not going to say it either.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And how often do people, now that we can say things over the Internet through typing it, or on social media, people are just so much more in conflict… What’s the word I’m looking for? Confrontational. They say stupid things. They’re just so much more confrontational than they ever would be with someone in person. I was a party to this on my tennis team last spring, I was party to a disagreement between two women that are supposedly Christians. And the text that went back and forth between the two of them, where I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked at the rage and the hate. And I kept trying to get the two of them to sit together. Because I know if you do that, it’s so much… It’s just there’s a lot. We’re going to unpack that. I don’t want to go down that road too much. But anyway, keyboard rage is a thing, and we do it without thinking so often. So that’s something that we know is a wrong way to handle conflict. And then lawsuits. Think about the amount of lawsuits that go on. I’m sorry, Julie. I know your father is a lawyer.

Candace Nassar

But even amongst believers, we know that the Bible is pretty clear that we are to try to handle things without going down that road. And yet a lot of times that happens. So these are ways that we inappropriately handle conflict in our culture. And so much of that culture permeates us as Christians, and we don’t really stop and think about it really, or we might… It’s often the distance what we know God says to be peacemakers or to have peace and make peace. But we just get caught up, right? We just get caught up in the day to day.

Annie Mendrala

That’s the root of our sin is our pride. And at that point, I heard Tim Keller. I was doing some study on suffering, and he said, Our culture tells us if we’re suffering, so what you just said demands to be right and wrong. And that’s just pride in a sense. Are we trusting God? Really, our first reaction is just to surrender and to say, “God, what’s next? Help me hold my tongue.”

Julie Whitehurst

How do you want me to respond?

Candace Nassar

Yeah. Yes. Such a good question to ask. Yeah. All right. So we’re going to talk just for a few minutes about the conflict of an avoider, Annie, I’m sure you can chime in, that runs from problems or tries to avoid it. It’s interesting. I think we see, minus keyboard rage, I think we see this a lot in Christians because it’s a common belief that conflict is wrong or is dangerous. Some people call these types of people peacekeepers. I’ve been reading Ken Sandy’s book called The Peacemaker, which is really really powerful. And in it, he calls them peace fakers, which I think it is… Isn’t that interesting?

Julie Whitehurst

Yeah, it is.

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. I think it stems from the underlying culture across the US for a time was image management. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t disgrace this family. Don’t make us look bad. What you do can tarnish the image of our family. There was this message given to children through the past 100 years of what you do is going to… It matters. So be at peace. Avoid it.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. So being at peace came to mean doing nothing, just turning around and ignoring it, which we know as we get back to the peace fakers. It’s not making peace.

Annie Mendrala

No.

Candace Nassar

And it has resulted in a lot of down-the-road conflict in a different way. So I love calling it a peace faker. And so let’s talk, Julie, in your message that you gave on this topic, You spoke about the difference between the peacemaker and the peacekeeper. So can you summarize the difference for us?

Julie Whitehurst

Sure. Yeah. Conflict is hard, and I think a lot of people’s tendency today is to run away like you, Annie, and not deal with it head-on. I also think it’s important to know that there actually is a difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking so that we can really know what we’re working towards. And the first difference that I can think of is that peacekeepers are passive. That might look like, Hey, is something wrong? No. And then the silent treatment. And we, as women, are historically known for giving the silent treatment. But truthfully, has the silent treatment ever solved a conflict healthily? And so while peacekeepers are passive, passive peace makers are bold.

Candace Nassar

Okay.

Julie Whitehurst

“Hey, what you said to me earlier, it really hurt my feelings. Can we talk about that?”

Candace Nassar

Okay. So let’s just unpack that for a second, Julie, before we go on. So Annie said, silence is consent. So that’s one thing to think about, too. I love that, that the silent treatment is being a passive peace faker, right? But you said, the peace makers are bold. And when we think about that, we get… I mean, does that not just make you a little bit anxious? A little bit scared? Yeah. I mean, that’s hard to be bold and to tell someone they’ve hurt your feelings. That’s not that hard for me because I’m an attacker, but I don’t do it in a healthy way. But the point is to tell someone in a Godly, honest, loving way that they’ve hurt your feelings. That’s not easy.

Julie Whitehurst

No, it’s being vulnerable.

Candace Nassar

That’s hard to do. Yes. And you face rejection. You face that person can be defensive. And so it’s very easy to see why people want to be peacekeepers or peace fakers because it’s just a lot easier.

Julie Whitehurst

Oh, there’s no way to do any of this without God’s grace. I mean, really and truly, this is not something we can do on our own. It isn’t natural for any of us.

Candace Nassar

Absolutely. Okay, so keep going.

Julie Whitehurst

Okay. Well, peacekeepers, I believe, avoid while peacemakers engage. And there again is what I’m saying that’s a really hard thing to do, to actually engage. It’s so tempting just to gloss over conflict and pretend it didn’t really happen. But a peacemaker is brave enough to engage in the resolution process.

Candace Nassar

I like that resolution process. Resolution process. That’s really what it’s about, right? We’re going to have conflict. It’s going to happen between people because we all do things that are wrong, and we all have our reactions that aren’t right or whatever. But we want to be brave, and we want to try to get resolution. And so we’re going to talk about a few strategies for that. But just keep that in mind, that it’s about resolution of the broken relationship.

Julie Whitehurst

Of the brokenness. Yeah, absolutely. Next, I think peacekeepers minimize conflict. While Peacemakers (it goes along with the resolution process) they ask questions, and they lead conversations.

Candace Nassar

Lindsay has talked to us. Lindsay Warner, our resident, licensed professional counselor, has talked to us about being curious. Asking questions that are curious. That helps. Instead of starting with, “You did this”, you might say, (someone’s asking you questions about you), “How are you feeling?”

Julie Whitehurst

It turns some things around and makes it easier to share and be vulnerable.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. Very good.

Julie Whitehurst

Well, lastly, peacekeepers are content with surface control, while peacemakers, here again, dive deep, and they uncover source problems or misunderstandings. And by source problems, I mean, what’s the real deal here? What’s really going on? Was it just this high level conflict right here?

Candace Nassar

That’s really good. I read in Sande’s book yesterday, he gave an example of a family of seven kids that were arguing about what to do when the mother died and left the farm and house and everything to all the kids. But she set up a trust for her special needs son who had been living in the house with her. And all the other kids wanted to just kick that kid out of the house and sell the house. And he was defending it with a bat and all kinds of things. They weren’t trying to see his viewpoint. They were trying to take away everything he knew. And so they figured it out. But the interesting thing was that there was conflict between two sisters that had been happening for 40 years. And they fought with each other-just so ugly. And Ken was able to get down underneath and figure out 40 years ago what happened, right?

Julie Whitehurst

Yeah. That’s what it  takes.

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. I heard somebody say,  “Oh, our family, they’re snorkelers. We’re not scuba divers. We stay on the surface.”

Candace Nassar

I love it.

Annie Mendrala

I love hearing this surface stuff. Yeah, they just snorkel around, but nobody goes deep down, right? And you say that, but that 40-year conflict, the reality is, as I’ve done my own healing work, I realized that stuffing everything down, avoiding it, had to be resolved. And even as a child, I had a lot of constant fear and anxiety because I was just shoving it. And honestly, my stomach was a wreck. Like your body knows there’s a physical manifestation of this unhealthy way. And if you’re a rager or if you’re an attacker, that also comes with physical consequences. So there’s so much harmony in our physical body when we deal with it, when we become a peacemaker, there’s a release of all that tension. And after 40 years for those women, (for me, it’s been almost 50) the same thing. It’s like I’m experiencing this release of tension in my body that it held on to for all these years.

Candace Nassar

Oh, that’s so good, Annie. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. All right. So let’s move on to talking. Thank you, Julie. That was a really good insight. So good.

Annie Mendrala

By the way, when Julie gave this talk, her original sharing was so healing for me for somebody to put work into. So I hope that our listeners, what we’re talking about today, are so good to recognize,  “Okay, what I thought was a good way of protecting myself was actually really unhealthy.” And just having this language was so helpful for me. Yeah.

Julie Whitehurst

Very important to actually be able to recognize it. Yeah. Yeah.

Candace Nassar

Very good. Good. So let’s move on and talk about the other side of the coin, which Ken Sandy calls the peacebreaker. These people are more interested in winning a conflict than in preserving the relationship. And he has a great quote. He says, “They view conflict as a contest or a chance to assert their rights to control others or take advantage of the situation.” And as a peacebreaker, that’s really hard to hear, but it really is true, if I really am honest. But either way, whether you’re a peacekeeper or peacebreaker or peace faker, God’s call to peace is not happening. We’ve established that none are healthy. Relationships are damaged and destroyed. So let’s talk about what a peacemaker is now. So when we’re peacemakers, we glorify God. We’ve already established that in our culture, people aren’t the right kinds of pacemakers. And so this doesn’t glorify God. And believers are called to handle conflict in a biblical way. And the real core, there’s a lot of verses in the Bible about being a pacemaker or having peace and promoting peace. But the core for conflict resolution is Matthew 18:15-17. And I’m just going to read that because it’s so important.

Candace Nassar

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church. And if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

 All right. So let’s unpack that for a few minutes, ladies. Annie, what does it mean if your brother or sister points out your fault just between the two of you? And by the way, before you answer that, I am going to go into this in detail in the next podcast that I do, where I interview a lady named Donna Jones, who is an author who wrote a book on conflict. So we’re not going to get too deep into this right now. We’re just going to give the surface. So go ahead.

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. I think what they’re saying is that it’s important that if you have an issue with another person, you need to go to that person. Don’t go to anybody else. It’s important to start with trying to make amends or repair a fracture in a relationship directly with that person. And I will say, you don’t go to them like, “If you offend me (and we’re not in a good place already, just to go and say), well, you did this, this, and this, and this.” It’s prayerful… We have to do it with prayer. First, humbling ourselves. We’ve got to get to a place of humility. We’ve got to step out of our pride. And I think Julie said this earlier about asking questions and curiosity. But I also think it’s really important to say, (even in my marriage) “Hey, what you said, that hurt me.” And give him the opportunity to repair it. But it needs to be appropriately done, not an attacking way, with positive intent, hoping to repair. And the reality is if someone starts pushing back hard, it’s important to just take, I heard somebody say, a “sacred pause”, like a time-out, or we may need to just step back from that.

Annie Mendrala

But it doesn’t mean run up to them and say, “You did this, this, and this.”

Candace Nassar

Right. There’s a very biblical way to handle that as well. And it means that we don’t go to someone else and say, “Pray for this person because they’ve done this to me.” It’s never a good idea.

Annie Mendrala

People that go online. I’m in an HOA, and I was on the board of it. And people would go on Facebook They would go on Facebook and write all these comments, and they never even came to us to present their request or their problem. They just went out into the virtual world, and it was like, well, nobody can help you out there.

Candace Nassar

That’s so unproductive. So unproductive. And then it says, if they listen to you, you have won them over. So it’s a very personal thing between the two people that are in disagreement. And then if they will not listen, you take one to two others along. And these are more like mediators. These are people that you have gone to that you’re not going to someone to bring an attack, a bunch of like a posse. This is not that. And so you’re trying to… the point, again, is restoration, restoration of the relationship and trying to bring in people that know this person, or at least are more objective, and can help resolve that conflict and get that person to listen. And then if they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church, which I love because it’s so… Isn’t it just like Jesus to give the local church that role? It’s so beautiful and loving to designate the church to be in support of an accountability for disagreements because that’s so much of what our life struggles with. And so that’s what the church is, one of the things the church is there for. So tell it to the church.

Candace Nassar

And then if they don’t listen, then it’s a whole other thing to treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. What does that mean, Annie?

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. Well, how would we treat unbelievers? Do we turn our back and ignore them? No, we pray for them. We show them love and kindness. But we also set boundaries in those relationships. Because like you said, if I’m seeking wisdom from a friend, I’m going to go to a believer who is like-minded. I’m not probably going to go to an unbeliever who has a different set of values and standards. So treating someone doesn’t mean we just wish them dead. We pray for them. We love them. But we have to set boundaries. And some relationships just aren’t healthy. We can’t be our healthy, wise, balanced self in those relationships, and we have to trust that God has them.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And that’s after we’ve gone through this process, right? You go through this in a loving, restorative, heartfelt posture of humility to try to restore it. And if the person won’t listen to you, they won’t listen to others, they won’t listen to the church, well, then they probably really aren’t understanding. They’re maybe not even a believer because they’re not being receptive to listen about their sins.

Annie Mendrala

And you know what? I thought of, too, as you were reading those verses, the reality is the enemy, he is seeking to steal, kill and destroy, and he definitely wants to break up the church. And the Word says in Ephesians, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood.” If we see people as our enemy, we will fall into the enemy trap. We have to see the spiritual war around us. That’s why we have to go in prayer with humility, trusting God as we work through these relational conflicts.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. So I do want to get some time for us to give some examples in our own life, but I do. Oh, we don’t need to do that. I’m just kidding. But a couple of things I wanted to point and make sure that we talk about is, I already said that Christians often see conflict as wrong and dangerous, but good things can come out of conflict, right? And what are some things that you have seen in your life now that you’re learning Annie to not be a confronter, but a peacemaker, let’s use the word. A peacemaker. What are some things that you see that can come out of resolving conflict in a healthy way.

Annie Mendrala

I like what Julie said about how peacemakers are bold. I think becoming a peacemaker is about becoming a courageous woman. And courage is married with that idea of gentleness and meekness, the strength under control. So we become more really who we are meant to be as we step into conflict in a healthy way. I think that one of the coolest things I’ve seen is watching people work through their trauma, work through their life. And by the way, trauma is anything that happens to you that imprints a negative message on your mind. It doesn’t have to be some extreme abuse or whatnot, but any event that happens that tells you a lie, ultimately. And I think what happens, though, as we learn to model this conflict resolution, generations will change. Because the way we handle conflict, definitely, our children are watching that. And I think it’s so hopeful for me to realize I can be different now. And I’ve been changing, and I’ve been talking to my boys about it. Like, “Hey, I used to do this”, but I got to show me this is what really being a peacemaker is. So I think, generationally, it can change.

Annie Mendrala

So good. Yeah.

Julie Whitehurst

Very good.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And as we were saying, the relationships get restored. We learn to forgive. We grow. Our kids see us. And so I’m learning, actually, in the petri dish of Spain, that my kids do react somewhat like they saw me do. And so I’ve got to confess that. Even at this age, in this stage of my life, we can still confess it, and we can still work on it. Julie, go ahead.

Annie Mendrala

No, I was just going to say one more thing. I will say learning to deal with conflict for those that maybe have marital conflict and have had it a long time. I mean, I had 22 years of it, and I got to a point where I thought, this isn’t going to work anymore. But once I started to do the hard work, once we both started to do it, God is redeeming and restoring our marriage to where I look ahead to the next 25, and I’m excited. The good that can come from it is a restored relationship in your marriage. It’s never too late to fall back in love with your spouse and to do things differently.

Candace Nassar

Amen. Amen. Yes. All right. So, Julie, there’s a lot of obstacles to being a peacemaker. We’ve talked about a few, but why don’t you just share some of those with us?

Julie Whitehurst

Okay. Yeah. Well, there are a few obstacles, and I think one of the biggest ones is hurts from our past that maybe we haven’t dealt with. And then confronting these situations of conflict looked through the lens of our pain and our anger or maybe unforgiveness. When God is really asking us to respond through the lens of His love, His love for us and His love for that person and His peace. And it takes a minute to step back and recognize, again, that this is what is happening, and it takes His grace and mercy to help us correct it. Annie has just been talking about all that she’s learned. It’s so important to keep learning and looking at yourself and seeing where you’re having these issues.

Candace Nassar

Okay, great. And then can you just give us one other obstacle that you think that would be a factor that we’ve just got into that we’ve already talked about?

Julie Whitehurst

Well, another big obstacle is just being easily offended. We think that everyone who disagrees with us is against us. That’s how we come back to things like that.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. Just being careful that we stop and pray, right? We talked about that earlier. Is this something I should be offended about? Because I want to jump to some of those conflict resolution strategies now. So Julie, you gave us three levels of conflict resolution. Why don’t you go through those a little bit?

Julie Whitehurst

Okay. Well, yeah, I made these up based on my life. I think that level one is basically, I call it “Let it go!” Sometimes conflict just needs a little peacekeeping. I remember that my husband Kevin’s in my first argument was which city was better, Dallas or Houston? And it was just such a silly argument, and it didn’t require anything, but just “Let it go!”

Annie Mendrala

It was clear that Dallas is better.

Julie Whitehurst

Wait a minute. Wait a minute. No. And so, yeah, level two. And this is, I see this as an “In the moment” conflict. Someone has said something to your husband or your kids, and someone said something that hurt you or made you mad. And your first instinct is to strike back. And I believe one of you said this earlier, Annie, I think it was you. What we need to do is step away for a second. You have to take a break and deal with yourself first before you respond. Such a big thing to do. And then something very important is that once you have stepped away is to name the emotion that you’re feeling. Because interestingly enough, this literally changes the pathway in your brain, and it calms you down and gets you to a place where you can have a healthy conversation about the conflict. And then level three is conflict that’s deeper. It’s been weeks, it’s been months, maybe even years. You know what I’m talking about. It’s deep. And it sounds obvious, but the first thing we all need to do is talk to God first and God alone, because we have a tendency to, instead of God, go to other people.

Julie Whitehurst

So first and foremost, we need to go to God. And after we’ve prayed about it, this is huge. Make the first move. Make the first move to confront the person, begin with your part, and then listen. And the goal here, and Candace was saying this earlier, is to reestablish the relationship. And it’s important to go through that process.

Candace Nassar

Very good. Very good. Yeah. So we can stop and say, okay, what level of conflict is this? And that helps us. That can help us with how to respond.

Julie Whitehurst

I love that. My daughter says that she and her fiance say to each other, “Are you on red, yellow, or green?” And it defines what level, where they are, and they go from there.

Candace Nassar

That’s great. That’s great. So what have each of you guys learned personally about being a peacemaker. I want you to think about that for a second, and we’re going to frame it within Colossians 3:12-15, which is super powerful to explain what that looks like. So let me read that. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, wholly and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. If any of you have grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgave you, and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” So, Julie, what from that verse really helps you be a peacemaker?

Julie Whitehurst

Well, I think that the part of the verse that has always stood out for me is the bear with each other, because to bear with each other, it means that we have to be patient and understanding with our people’s weaknesses, their differences, and sometimes even their faults. And it means that sometimes we might just have to endure a family member or a close close friend, even when they’re being difficult, because it happens. And if you’re thinking about summer, when you’re home together all the time, you’re going to start to see these more loudly.

Candace Nassar

Absolutely. Yeah. That’s good.

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. And this summer, all our rhythms and our routines are disrupted. And when that happens, we get expectations, and it’s difficult. I love that you brought that verse up because what I recently learned was the best way to approach anyone in a conflict is to consider what God says in His Word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And that as yourself is to the degree with which you love yourself is how you are to love others. So as the summer happens, I think it’s important to teach our kids that verse, for one. No one should let their kid leave home without knowing that command in that verse. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So we need to tend to ourselves first, always. “Are we in the word? Are we feeding? Are we allowing the Spirit to pour in so we can be the overflow?” And then with everyone around us, approach them with love and respect continually. And just as our rhythms are disrupted, we get uncomfortable. And that’s good in a sense, because it’s an opportunity to grow, to grow with one another.

Candace Nassar

Yeah. And I was thinking about how important it is to teach our children these practices of conflict resolution. And they can even, like you said, Julie, your daughter knows this now, but as young children, they don’t know how to manage conflict. We know that’s a big reason why people have so many disagreements today is we really aren’t taught that. So if you can’t teach your kids these levels and how to manage the different aspects of what their emotions are and help them to regulate their emotions, they’re not going to know. And I think when my kids were little, it was a little frustrating for me because I’m like, why are you fighting so much? Well, that’s just what kids do. And we have to help them understand what their emotions are, name it, do all the things that you were saying, Julie. And it’s really important to walk through that with them and help alongside them. And then step back and let them practice.

Annie Mendrala

Yeah. I would say everyone should order a “feelings wheel”. They’re all over the Internet. They’re everywhere. I have one on my refrigerator in my laundry room, and it helps give… I love you said that, Candace. Teach our children to identify their feelings, because as we name it,It changes our sympathetic nervous system. It brings it all to the prefrontal cortex and helps us to start emotionally regulating. So many great opportunities.

Candace Nassar

Yes. And so, just thinking about the summer, is managing expectations. There is going to be conflict. There is going to be fighting and so have a plan. Try to have a plan. And that plan can be, “Okay, we’re going to go through these feelings wheel”, or we’re going to work on the levels of conflict and figuring out where we are. Should we let it go? Should we confront? How should we handle these things? And look at it as a great opportunity to practice and have just a lot of good time with God and make sure you’re practicing His presence throughout the summer, not forgetting about Him because you’ll need Him even more, I think sometimes, and just in a different way, right?

Annie Mendrala

There was a verse I read this morning, I want to share with our listeners. I know you’re about to close us. It was in Proverbs 9:6. It says, “Leave an experience behind, and you will live. Pursue the way of understanding.” What we didn’t know, we didn’t know. But if we keep pursuing understanding, we will live and have a flourishing life. So I just want to encourage our listeners. Keep seeking understanding.

Candace Nassar

That’s so good. All right. Well, thank you guys so much for this time, and I hope that everyone has enjoyed it. In a couple of weeks, I’m going to air another episode about conflict resolution, and we’re going to talk a little bit about forgiveness in that episode and how to achieve that and what God’s expectations are there. So Annie, could you just close us in a quick prayer?

Annie Mendrala

I would love to. 

Father, we thank you so much for your word, for the truth of it. We thank you that you are the peace, that you broke the dividing wall of hostility that existed before you came and gave your life for us. Lord, we pray that we would abide in your love, that we would pour that love out to those around us and to ourselves, Lord, that we would receive your love, and that you would just continue to strengthen our moms as they pursue righteousness and goodness for their families. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Candace Nassar

Amen. Thank you, guys.

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