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Voices: Triple word throwdown

by Sarah Carson

My younger sister, Jen, and I haven’t always had a lot in com­mon. Growing up I liked playing with Ninja Turtles while she enjoyed Barbies. While she spent hours with Mom getting her hair braided, I had Mom cut all my hair off.

But the one thing we’ve always shared is a fiery, passionate, powerful dislike for losing.

No matter what the game or competition or social scenario—we have always vehemently wanted to win.

So during a recent family get-together, when someone suggested a board game, we raced to the table. The only problem was that we couldn’t agree on how to play any of the games. During a game of Catchphrase, Jen disagreed with how I kept score. When we dealt a round of Uno, we argued about whether or not I had shouted “Uno” fast enough.

“Let’s just play Scrabble,” Jen suggest­ed. Things went well for a while—until she didn’t like the way I played a word.

“I gave up on Catchphrase and Uno because you weren’t happy,” I shouted. “I’m not letting you have your way again!”

I fully acknowledge that I was mad­der than any sane person should ever get about a board game. But I was tired of being told I was wrong, and I left the room in a huff.

When we were younger, Jen and I would get into fights about all kinds of things. Sometimes we wouldn’t talk for weeks—too proud to acknowledge we’d done anything wrong. But this time was different. Jen came looking for me, and we apologized to each other not because we were actually sorry (at least I know I’m not sorry; I still deserve that Triple Word Score!), but because our relation­ship has become more important than always being right.

Most of us would rather avoid con­flict if we can, but this month’s issue of Gather is dedicated to what can happen when we embrace it.  

In “Road to reconciliation,” Rose­mary Dyson provides us with practi­cal tips for engaging in healthy discus­sions about conflict: “The next time you encounter conflict, ask the question, ‘I wonder what God is up to now?’” she writes. “Conflict is often an opportunity to learn something new…”

University pastor Charlene Cox calls on us to step into conflict, to stand up for victims of violence and abuse. Anne Basye asks us to ponder why we aren’t more conflicted about our soci­ety’s wasteful, unsustainable attitudes about garbage. And Sonia Solomonson even encourages us to be grateful for conflict, for God’s unending love and mercy in the midst of it all.

Regardless of how you feel about conflict—whether you run and hide when disagreements arise or you stir them up wherever you go—I hope you’ll find something in this issue that makes you think about conflict differently. I hope that you’ll begin to see conflict as my sister and I have—as a way to come together rather than grow apart.

Sarah Carson is associate editor of Gather.

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