Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coffee and Conflict

Last night I ground some special Christmas coffee, which Doug gave me, prepared and loaded the coffee maker, anticipating a flavorful start to the morning. Today, I pushed the “on” button and went about my business – only to hear an odd gurgling. The good news is I caught the disaster before it spilled down the bottom cabinets; the not so good news is something got plugged up – even though I washed all parts the night before. Somehow, something clogged the valve into the thermos – and my fancy coffee went everywhere but its intended destination!

It was a three-towel mop-up.

Settling down now with coffee in hand, I wonder what the lesson was in the mess?

Soon, I saw an implicit comparison: Thinking I am doing everything “right” doesn’t mean, in fact, I am. Nor does doing my things “right” mean I can control other things – or people. Last night I inadvertently did, or did not do, something that caused the hot coffee to overflow the pot this morning. Maybe, I added a bit too much finely ground coffee? Or, perhaps I did not tighten the thermos lid thoroughly, or I misaligned it? It’s easy to see who ultimately caused the overflow this morning – even though making a mess was not my aim. It was also easy to see that the only choice I had was cleaning up the mess and starting over.

But suppose I had ignored the coffee spill until a more convenient time – or expected Doug to deal with the mess? Really crazy, huh?

Nope – that’s how most of us often deal with conflict if we aren’t blowing our stacks! (And I include Christians!)

Dissension between family and friends is often a little like my coffee debacle – surprising, painful and messy. But, instead of quickly addressing the mess, we try to ignore a conflict – until a more convenient time. Or, we pass the problem off to someone else to solve. Yet the pain of unresolved conflict is just as messy and dangerous as an overflowing pot of hot coffee – and might take more than three towels to clean up!

So, if you suspect something isn’t perking as intended, consider whether you're making peace quickly is as necessary as the need for me stop a hot coffee spill. Peacemaking can be messy. We might get burned. And we may need help doing it. Here’s some help from Scripture:

  • Have you fallen out with someone – because they seem like a jerk? (See Matthew 18:15)
  • Has a relationship cooled for no apparent reason? (See Matthew 5:23-25)
  • Are you convinced you are faultless in a disagreement? (See Luke 21:31-32)
  • Are you a Christian, wanting to reflect Him?   See Matthew 5:9 in the following translations:
  • "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (ESV)
  • “Happy are those who strive for peace-they shall be called the sons of God.” (TLB)
  • "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.” (THE MESSAGE)
When conflict next erupts, I hope I remember pretending the mess is not my problem is as unwise as letting a coffee maker continue to flood the counter.
Remedy it, or welcome it: a wise man's only two choices. ~The Quote Garden


CJ Diachenko said...

This was a very timely post. Thank you. Based on my starbucks career, I can attest to the fact that if one was trying to create a yummy and beautiful macchiato, but accidently spilled the steam milk....watch out! Make sure to allow the peace-towels to soak into every nook & cranny of the vicinity. There are few stinks worse than forgotten, rotten milk!

CJ Diachenko said...

Or better yet, just stick with pure coffee. :/

bwsmith said...

Ah, Good tip -- as is te one to stick with plain coffee!

I love Starbucks . . . One of the best books I read was _How Starbucks Saved My Life_.