The parish conflict has moved to level 4 or 5. There have been blow ups and people are moving among the standard options -- terminate ("I have to get out of this place," withdraw (emotionally, physically - "It's just too painful"), fantasize ("can't we just go back to the way it was?").
Lines have been drawn. Positions stated and misunderstood by the opponents. Informal contact reduced, maybe non existent. Outside parties are being drawn into the fight--Bishop's, parishioners, maybe even the newspaper [At the General Theological Seminary - students, alumni, PB, Episcopal Cafe, the New York Times]
Some stay emotionally focused on how what they have done is right and how the opponents are wrong. A few find themselves aware of the long term damage that's about to take place. All have moments of thinking about the miserable months, and possibly years, ahead in which their time and energy will be tied up in this struggle. And then there are the confused and confusing voices -- "just sit down and talk," "can't we all get along," "what did they think would happen if they behaved this way." The sentimental, the cynical, the victims, the passive, the outraged all get on stage.
Is there anything that can be done?
1. A clear, meaningful gesture
2. Take a stance of humble assertiveness.
3. Offer a new proposal
But what if it doesn't work?
Then you are back to the mediators, arbitrators and attorneys.
The reality of conflict is that we don't get to control it. We may be able to manage it to some degree if we have the needed mix of wisdom, humility, and competence. Maybe.
The psalmist offers perspective (78)
|38||But he was so merciful that he forgave their sins
and did not destroy them; *
many times he held back his anger
and did not permit his wrath to be roused.
|39||For he remembered that they were but flesh, *
a breath that goes forth and does not return.
We're human. We share in sin and human limitation. We often get it wrong. God is merciful.
Also on conflict