Thursday, January 9, 2014

Having Words With Conflict

“The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” - William Faulkner

Conflict. It’s such a terrible, inescapable word.

I have conversations in my head. Like, full on debates complete with both sides of the argument. Of course, I have to let one of them win. But it’s hard. I like to root for the underdog. But clearly the underdog does not have the upper hand. And I like to win.

In fact, I’m a bit of a sore loser sometimes. It hurts to say those words. To admit them aloud on the page. But that is part of the truth of who I am. I do not like to lose.

I do not like to win, either. Not like this. Not when the opponent goes slinking away with that feeling that I know all too well; the feeling of defeat.

Perhaps there is conflict precisely because I do have a human heart. I can feel joy and sorrow over the same thing. Conflict enables empathy. Without conflict we do not understand what it is like to win or lose. Without conflict we would not understand the dread of failure or the rush of victory. And we need both of those things to love our neighbors.

How can failure teach us to love our neighbors?

It feels like I fail dozens of times every day; scores of times every week. In parenting, in financial planning, in managing time. Things pile up and I give up. Or at least I want to. But someone comes along and speaks those timeless, golden words “me, too.” And I feel so strongly that I am not alone anymore. I’m not worthless if it can happen to anyone. I am just having a bad day. Likewise, I can reach out when someone else needs the same type of comfort to navigate through the feelings and hard knocks.

How can victory teach us to love our neighbors?

There’s a hashtag that goes around a lot: #winning. People use it when the day is going incredibly right (or very terribly wrong.) But you feel that element of empathy when you read about their small victories. We all need a win now and then. Maybe every day. A win reinforces our value to ourselves. And when a person can love and value themselves, life looks a little less grey, a little less daunting, a little less lonely.

It all ties in together. The human heart in conflict. Win/lose. Mourn/Rejoice. Rest/fight back.

I might just be blithering today. But I hope I can make sense of some of this. I hope I can use it. I hope my words can be redeemed. I hope I can say this is time well spent. I can doubt and hope all at the same time.

My heart is amazing like that. And so is yours. 

Playing "catch up" with my writings. This post is taken from a November write-in prompt with the Story Sessions community.


  1. Jamie, you show some good insight here. And you are so right that "Conflict enables empathy.... Without conflict we would not understand the dread of failure or the rush of victory. And we need both of those things to love our neighbors."
    I love you!

  2. Love you, too. Thanks for listening to me chatter. :)


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