My heart raced as I saw the number pop up on my phone. Nothing in me wanted to have this conversation. I was beyond aggravated. Hurt. Angry. And tired of being misunderstood.
I answered the call with two goals in mind – to prove how right I was and how wrong they were.
How do you think that conversation went?
This conflict happened over 5 years ago so the rush of emotion has dissipated and I can see more clearly how wrong my approach was.
I learned from that conflict. Hopefully, I learn something from every conflict – especially how to have better reactions. I’m so far from being in a place where I can shine my halo.
But I’m getting better.
While my initial thoughts when a conflict arises are usually those same old “I’ll show you” thoughts, I’ve progressed by not letting those leak into my reactions.
By asking myself three questions:
1. What part of this issue can I own and apologize for?
There are always two sides to every issue. And no side is perfectly right or all the way wrong.
If I make peace with the part I need to own and apologize for ‘before’ the conversation, there’s a greater chance I’ll stay calm ‘in’ the conversation. Proverbs 15:1 is a verse I’ve memorized and recalled often, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
2. How can I soften my heart toward this person so I honor them despite how they react?
Gosh, this one is hard. Really hard. But I know hurt people hurt people.
Usually the person with whom I’m having a conflict has some kind of past or current hurt in their life feeding this issue. Chances are that hurt doesn’t have anything to do with me but is adding to their emotional response in this conflict.
It’s easier to soften my heart if I can sympathize with their hurt I can’t see. If I can duck below my pride, honor will be my reward. Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”
3. If I knew this conversation was being video taped and then shown to people I greatly respect, how would this change my reaction?
What if I showed up to church this week and my pastor directed everyone to watch the screen for an example of a bad reaction? And then my face appeared. Have. Mercy. I. Would. Surely. Faint. #Call911.
While it is highly unlikely that our conversation would be recorded and viewed, it is very likely others are watching our reaction. Our kids. Our co-workers. Our friends. But here’s the one that really grabs my heart – my Jesus is very much present. Philippians 4:5 reminds us, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
I know every conflict has variables that must be considered. Some conflicts have escalated to the point where professionals must be called in to help. Be mindful and prayerful about this.
But for the everyday conflicts we all have, these questions are good to consider. If we control our reactions in the short-term, we don’t have to live with ‘reaction regret’ in the long-term.
If you found these 3 questions helpful, my book Unglued digs deeper into managing conflict in a godly way. Leave a comment telling me which question resonated with you the most and you’ll be entered to win 1 of 5 Unglued books I’m giving away today.