Laura and I had a “disagreement” the other day (a.k.a. “fight”), and I found myself slipping back into some old patterns. I wanted to prove I was in the right (and she was in the wrong) more than I wanted resolution. In other words, I wanted to win.
Have you ever found yourself at odds with your spouse, boss, or fellow church member where winning the argument becomes more important than resolving the argument? What provokes you to prove a point, even if it damages the relationship?
Sure, there are certain non-negotiables over which relationships may need to end. The Apostle Paul made it pretty clear that times may come when you or the other person needs to find the nearest exit (eg., 1 Corinthians 5:2; Titus 3:10-11).
There are also times when separation can be beneficial to all parties involved such as the time Paul and Barnabas chose different paths (cf. Acts 15:37-41).
Make no mistake, however; the path to separation is far narrower than you might think. And the path to resolution is wide but difficult to walk. The path through conflict is a minefield of ego, pride, and selfishness. Most of my arguments with Laura center around my feelings being hurt, my opinion not accepted, or my wants neglected (or so I believe at the time). What do those three have in common? “My.”
As Frank Sinatra soulfully sang, “I want it my way.” And when I don’t get it my way, I get defensive, and I become offensive.
I need to heed the words from Romans 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” The same author wrote in a different letter, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
There’s that “H” word—humility. Humility is one of those character traits you should aspire to but never boast about attaining. Is it possible to be proud of your humility? Humility is not self-deprecation; it is simply lacking focus on self. We need to be self-aware in the sense of emotional health and emotional intelligence (EQ), but self-awareness should never lead to self-aggrandizement.
When I begin to apply the words from the above Scriptures, I find more self-fulfillment when I am not trying to please myself. It’s odd but true: helping others find fulfillment brings greater self-fulfillment.
So, the next time Laura and I have a “disagreement,” I need to be less concerned about winning and more concerned about resolving. As one author put it, “Making things right is more important than being right” (Eric Bryant, Not Like Me, 140). Now it’s time for me to go make things right. How about you?