Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the whole staircase.–-Martin Luther King Jr.
I saw this quote on an entrance sign at a local shopping center, and thought how well it applies to conflict resolution.
What does it look like to take the first step to heal conflict? It could be sitting down and talking with someone we’ve been avoiding. It could mean a new openness to hearing their story, understanding that their version of what happened is inevitably different from ours. It could mean telling another person how hurt or angry we felt. It could be a softening and self–forgiveness that lets us acknowledge our share in a problem rather than reacting defensively.
Taking the first step doesn’t mean giving in, or deciding to forgive the other no matter what. On the contrary, as I have seen many times in my personal life and with mediation and conflict coaching clients, it is a willingness to try when you don’t know what will happen.
I can never predict the outcome of a conversation, coaching session or mediation. I simply do my best to listen whole-heartedly and trust the process, trust that we will be guided together. Without attempting, futilely, to control what happens, we can gently speak our truth and listen to the other person’s.
We can choose to have faith that, if we just take one step at a time, the whole “staircase” leading to resolution and healing will appear.