Greg and Ali were newlyweds and grocery shopping for the first time as a married couple. The initial joint shopping experience is always exciting. For the first time you are the adults. You are setting up your new home. So Greg and Ali were simply enjoying this delightful experience.
Plus, you learn things about your new spouse that rarely make the pre-marital checklist. You see what foods the other person really likes. In the cereal aisle, Ali selected Special K just to impress Greg. Greg, on the other hand, put Cocoa Pebbles in the cart. Who doesn’t like drinking the chocolate milk from the bowl after the cereal is gone?
It was the milk that caught them completely off guard. When they got to the dairy section, they each reached for the “correct” milk but each wound up getting the “wrong” milk. You see, Ali was raised on skim while Greg was raised on whole milk.
Now they had a problem. All their reading, their months of dating, all the advice given them regarding marriage did not prepare them for the Milk Conundrum.
A discussion ensued.
Facts were shared.
Logic was applied.
Tears were shed.
In the end, the best they could come up with was a compromise – 1% milk.
What Greg and Ali had was a conflict. They both saw a unique situation differently. There was no right or wrong. There was just a difference.
But what arose from this conflict was contention. They couldn’t imagine how anyone could see the milk situation differently than they did. Because of their unwillingness to allow for differences, something as simple as milk became a sore spot in their budding relationship.
Soon after Christ appeared to the Nephites and Lamanites, He quickly broached the subject of contention. He clearly told them contention was of the devil. But we must make sure we understand that Christ did not say the conflict was of the devil.
Conflict is a natural part of life. In most cases, conflict should be celebrated and not avoided. Conflict provides us an opportunity to learn about each other, to reevaluate what we believe, and to work together towards a meaningful (not a 1%) compromise.
Conflict becomes contentious when we are unwilling to bend. As soon as we insist that our way is the only way, or worse yet, our way is God’s way, we open ourselves to becoming contentious.
Christ knew the tendency towards contention in the long history of the Nephite church. He knew how they argued about the Law of Moses, the need for baptism, and other religious hot-button issues. In fact, soon after Christ departed, the people returned to their well-trod path towards contention regarding the name of the church.
We sometimes snicker that how prone the Nephites were towards contention. Maybe we are not that different. For I wonder, which milk is right?