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Is Conflict Good?

 This summer, early this summer, we went on a little adventure. We were just starting Joel’s sabbatical and outdoor space was the focus and I wanted to finally experience the peonies in Ann Arbor. I had done some research but it turns out just not quite enough. We put the address into a gps app and the entrance was closed and buried under construction sending us into a rerouting loop that almost caused us to leave before even getting there. A new entrance address found and inputted brought us down a street with a mix of sketchy free, paid, and permit only parking. We parked in a sketchy free area and headed in. I thought Monday at 11 would be a pretty quiet time to go, there were easily several hundred people coming and going. Once the peonies are in sight, Joel realizes he left his phone in the car, he turns back. Leaving me with my big girl camera and our less than impressed daughter. I start snapping photos of unexpectedly happy flowers. Joel finds us and he’s done, the sketch factor is too high for him to comfortably leave the car unattended any longer. We leave. In all honesty, it was one of the most disappointing parts of my summer but at the same time, it felt familiar.

I don’t know if I’ve been going with the flow for too long and have forgotten how to correctly voice my desires and needs but this summer, my personal desires came into conflict with groups very often. Sometimes I’d just let my desires go, other times, I’d lean in and take a stand. Taking a stand almost always ended with conflict, not my favorite.

Conflict is part of life though and it shouldn’t be avoided at all costs. Maybe it should even be encouraged. If there is never any conflict then it means one of two things, you always get your way or you never get your way and neither of those are good for growth. Often my conflict is internal, a small wrestling match with myself over whether or not this thing or that is worth a verbal spar or depending on the person a simple request.

I didn’t put up much of a fight about leaving the peonies. We’d worked our way through lots of conflict just for the few minutes I’d already experienced and it didn’t feel like a few more would heighten the moment any more. So we left. We made our way to another garden, enjoyed it immensely as a family.

I left the camera as card untouched the entire summer, adding a few videos and pictures here and there. When I finally did pull it out to download and take a peek on a larger screen, I was surprised by the peonies. Especially the ones here.

A little happy hello waving to me from the past. I don’t even remember taking pictures of the particular bunch but they made me happy. I’m glad that we persisted in the moment. Even though it wasn’t what I had imagined, what I take with me is lovely. Worth the conflict even though the conflict made it less than enjoyable in the moment. The fruit born of it is lovely and sweet.


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