We all have had the experience where something has happened or someone has said something & we were left speechless. Sometimes, we’ve had people say things that have been really hurtful. Sometimes, we are in a situation that is very difficult to know how to respond. Sometimes, a conversation goes in a direction that can be uncomfortable. These are just a few examples of when we might be left “speechless”. Thankfully, I’m starting to learn to say less than what I think – whew! But what should we say in difficult situations, conversations etc?
Here are some thoughts:
- be encouraging – look for something positive if you’re expected to make a reply
- wisdom, the leading of the Holy Spirit, helps us to know when we should speak & when we should remain silent; there are appropriate times to be vocal & there are times when silence is golden
- listen to what God would want to achieve through the interchange – getting on God’s page is more helpful than pushing my personal agenda
- speak life – acknowledge shortcomings, be forgiving & affirming
- Jesus said that people who are peace makers are a blessing because they’re called the sons of God – making peace isn’t the same thing as rolling over & playing dead, but it also isn’t about escalating a conflict.
- trying to resolve conflict through email, facebook, text messaging, voicemail, linked in, etc is really difficult & sometimes impossible. Be mindful of what you’re trying to accomplish if you bring up difficult conversations in these settings because there is HUGE AMOUNTS of room for misunderstanding 🙂
I had an interesting experience a few days ago with a very unhappy person. This person was extremely upset about a difficulty & she was upset beyond what the circumstances called for. I began to think about the possible reasons why she could be over reacting:
- maybe she was having a rough day,
- maybe there are other pressures in her life where she vents her frustrations in unrelated situations,
- maybe she has some medical challenges that cause her to be easily upset
- worst of all, maybe she is an angry person
There’s a difference between being angry about something & being an angry person. One is based on situations but the other is an identity. The person who finds their identity in anger brings dissension into his conversations & relationships based on Prov 29:22 & 15:18. An angry person tends to lack control over their behaviors & conversations. And an angry person, based on what Proverbs says, is a fool (29:11).
In contrast, a person who is slow to anger tends to have a better life – they have great understanding (14:29, 17:27), they’re not easily offended (they overlook offenses – 19:11), they have more self-control than an angry person and a person who is slow to anger is better than the mighty (16:32).
Let’s be angry for the right reasons (against injustices, wickedness & evil), but let’s not be angry people 🙂
Fighting is an interesting concept that gets practiced in many different ways:
- the guy who flips me off because I cut in front of his car
- fighting in Afghan, Iraq, Libya & other areas
- fighting with our spouse over little things portending a bigger issue
- fighting with a friend over a misunderstanding or something that is wrong
There are lots of ways of fighting, some of which are better than others. When I was first married, Reece & I would have some normal disagreement, but my way of handling the conflict was to just shut down & disengage (aka – silent treatment). Reece didn’t really put up with that technique, saying that there was nothing constructive accomplished w my silence – it didn’t help resolve the conflict, make any progress toward a common goal or do anything constructive. Quickly, I realized that he was right. Since then, Reece & I can definately have some fights & heated conversations, but we don’t clam up & get silent. We also don’t take shots at each other’s person – we may not like the other’s behavior, but we don’t attack each directly. Consequently, while we’ve had some pretty sturdy conflicts, we also have developed some really good honesty & intimacy over the years.
I think the idea of working through a conflict with God is even more important than when we work through a conflict w our spouse. I don’t think that God is into a passive intimacy with us, where we just roll over & play dead. Think about some of the great men in the Bible: Job, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, . . . . These men all had conflicts with God – good honest “fights” where they disgreed with God, wrestled with Him, challenged His integrity, confronted the discrepencies in the world with God’s character & sometimes just flat out debated with God. If we genuinely want a close relationship with God, there will be times when we will disagree with Him & I don’t think this makes Him nervous. Engaging with God whether through intense love or frustration & even anger is better than indifference & passivity. There is such a thing as a “right fight”.