My Relationships A Christian Response to Conflict by Colton Marks Preparing this blog turned out to be immensely difficult. I have always struggled to encounter difficult people in a charitable way and my battle continues to this day. While brainstorming tips to on how to best treat others, even when they test your limits, in unison with the Golden Rule, all I could recall was the ruined friendships, months of shame because of how I acted towards another and the occurrences where I needed to simply turn the other cheek, but failed to do so. Luckily for us, the Divine Love of our Savior shines radiantly as the sun even through our spotty windows and, even though I’ve failed, I’m growing in learning the way of love and that’s what I’m here to share with you. Fundamentals First If we are going to live out this way of love, we must understand the fundamentals of the matter. Christ says in Matthew 7:25, “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Our foundation of charity springs from recognizing the beauty and dignity of all human life. God created each human person in His image and likeness, granting all of us an eternal dignity that deserves constant respect. Therefore, we must understand that even when someone is difficult, we are still called to desire their good because God desires their good. Loving others as Christ prescribes does not entail an intimate and personal relationship with everyone we meet, nor does it require us to spend copious amounts of time with them. However, Christ speaks to us in Matthew 5:44-45 when He professes, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” This passage leads us to our next fundamental: to experience eternal glory in heaven, we must hope and pray that all people, especially our enemies, enter into perfect unity with Christ for eternity. Willing anything contrary to the sanctification of all souls shows that we do not share in the Divine Love of Christ. Humility Heals Now we will explore the various ways of how we can encounter these difficult people with authentic charity. First, we must acknowledge our own imperfections and how we also can be difficult to those around us. This recognition of the “plank” in our own eye helps us to better tolerate the imperfections of others. A daily examination of conscience is essential so that we may recollect and reflect on the day gifted to us by God, thus, seeing the ways in which we have fallen short in our imperfection. The litany of humility also acts as a great devotional, decreasing the vice of pride and opening our hearts to the grandeur of God’s Divine Love. The daily examination and litany also promote interior silence amongst our hearts. Overall, forgiveness is the pathway to Divine Love. Just as Christ in Luke 23:34 says, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, so too must we live for a greater manifestation of forgiveness in our souls. Sometimes in my prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, God will place a cross within my heart to ask for forgiveness from someone I have wronged or forgive someone I am begrudgingly hesitant to show mercy. Though this exercise in humility is difficult, the burden amongst my soul burns far greater than clearing the resentment and guilt within my heart. Do not be afraid to practice true humility by asking for forgiveness from those whom you have uncharitably hurt and also constantly forgive those whom you have built contempt towards because this ill-nature only deteriorates our souls and keeps us restrained from the freedom Christ offers to us through forgiveness. Think to yourself, “If Christ can forgive people who wrongfully put him to death, then surely I, a broken sinner, can forgive those who have wronged me in the same way that I wrong Christ.” The path of Divine Love leads us to our sanctification; therefore, we must, in return, show love to all, even those who we find difficult to love. I too am a sinner, struggling with my ability to love unconditionally, but I long for the sanctification of my soul and the souls of my enemies and I will continue to strive to act accordingly. May we all be beacons of Divine Love.