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Rules for Disagreeing

I drew up this chart for my children the other day and, as always, learned more than they did. The most important thing I learned from this is the concept of waiting to discuss an issue.

I don't think we really can hear another person's point of view so long as we are still brooding or feeling offended or trying to defend ourselves. Anger, pain, and fear block our acceptance of new information.

This brings me to a number of different issues.

1) What if you recognize the other person is angry, hurt, or afraid, but they insist on talking about an issue?

2) What if every time you enter a situation you continue to feel angry, hurt, or afraid? Can you never discuss that situation?

3) How do adults work through their anger, hurt, or fear?

Question 1: What do we do if another person is angry, afraid, or hurting but they still insist on discussing the issue. First, I don't think it's our job to mention that we think they're too mad to think straight. That won't go over well. Instead, I suggest we comfort or give the hug or listen to their venting without judgement. Become the means by which they calm down. If hearing their issue causes us to be too mad or scared or afraid, then it's our turn to say, "I'm too mad, hurt, or afraid to talk about this right now."

Question 2: If every time we encounter a situation, idea, or person we feel angry, afraid, or hurt, then it's time to unpack that feeling and discover what's behind it. I don't mean discovering the "why" but the "what."

NOT: "I experienced neglect as a child, so I'm deeply wounded that you didn't invite me," but: "I'm expecting my friends to fix these feelings of neglect that I have from childhood."

NOT: "Those people are believing the worst of me and that isn't right!" But: "I was relying on their good opinion of me to behave kindly to them in return." This is far too big of a concept to unpack here and I haven't the skill to do it. But here's a link to an attempt: Link

Question 3: How do adults work through anger, hurt or fear? This question is closely linked to question 2. Yes, breathing deeply, being hugged, getting ourselves to a safe location, and repeating God's promises from the Bible are good calming tools, but they don't necessarily get to the heart of the matter. I think we can get to the heart of the matter by examining our own heart and desires.

I think when we experience anger, fear or hurt, it's because we didn't get something that we believed to be our right. I expected someone to understand my opinion. I expected others to be as unselfish as I am (ha ha ha). I expected others to think well of me. I expected my future to be more secure. I expected to be able to change my situation etc.

These are all good things. In fact, arguably, they are our birthright. Unfortunately, we lost our birthright long ago in an incident involving a snake and a tree.

Now, nothing is owed to us, not a safe place to live, not a steady income, not rightful treatment by others or unconditional love or the power to effect change, nada. However God has made life in this hostile environment possible for us so long as we stop looking for our birthrights among men and situations. We can actually thrive here so long as we stop expecting others to respect us or praise us or judge us rightly. Those are things only God can give.

He says we're good enough and precious, understandable and powerful, secure and important, made new and redeemed through this organic hour-by-hour friendship with Christ Jesus. Lots of good things have been said about what this life might look like so I will end at that.


MommaMina said…
YES. Good Analysis, Abs. In the series called The Chosen, a pharisee comes to see Nicodemus who is portrayed to be an honest seeker. In an attempt to flatter him the pharisee thanks Nicodemus for being there and says, " You make us whole." To which Nicodemus sternly corrects, "Only God can do that."

Yes, only God can do that.

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