Image… a church board, a work team, or a congregation engaged in difficult conversations, who disagrees yet does it with respect and intentional listening, and calls conflict “a gift.” Imagine … where conflict is a gift, there is an opportunity to understand ourselves better, to discover empathy for others, to build deeper and more meaningful relationships. Imagine … conflict that leads us toward developing healthier relationships and communities.
Differences exist. Don’t we know it! As a people of peace. with curiosity and acknowledgment of our differences, we hope to build respectful relationships. Of course, it is not easy. Difficult topics, especially those that involve our beliefs, practices, accountability, and policies, are not easy to maneuver. It is challenging to believe that I am one with those whom I continue to fundamentally disagree.
In his book, Daily Meditations, Richard Rohr writes,
“There are three things in life of which we can be assured: The first is that we are beloved. Regardless of what we have done in our lives or what has been done to us, this truth remains: We are beloved. We are worthy. Second, suffering will come. Life does what life does. In one fashion or another suffering will be thrust on us. This includes the suffering of conflict. And finally, third, when we are in our time of suffering a hand will reach toward us to pull us back to life. That hand may be a community, a friend, a stranger in line at the grocery store…”
I believe a book, such as The Space Between Us, can also be a hand that will pull us back to life.
In The Space Between Us: Conversations about Transforming Conflict, author Betty Pries, a mediator and facilitator, guides readers toward seeing conflict as an opportunity for personal growth, deeper self-knowledge, and a way to build resilience. Rooted in the conviction that conflict can strengthen our relationships and deepen our self-knowledge, Pries offers practical skills rooted in Christian practices of mindfulness, connecting with our most authentic selves and deep listening, to uncover new possibilities for engaging conflict and casts a vision for a more joy-filled future.
As we transform conflict, the space between us is transformed just as the space between us is healed.
Imagine … a book that gently guides, leads with helpful examples, and gives practical suggestions. A book to read, keep on your shelf, share with your church board, and reread. A free online study guide by Karen Cornies is also available through Herald Press and might allow for your entire congregation to read the book together. I personally give the book a 5-star recommendation.