Though most of us would likely wish to avoid this, we all experience conflict. When handled in a Christ-like manner, with equal parts love, truth, and grace, however, what initially feels like a fail can actually become a win.
When It Doesn’t Feel Like Winning
By Kimi Miller
My anger was blazing, and I didn’t care who saw or heard. What mattered most was making sure the other person knew they were wrong and I was right. I’d rehearsed my response more than a dozen times–a few times in my head, and then alone out loud in my car just to be safe. No room for emotions; I intended to spew forth my words in a predetermined manuscript without a second thought. If I wanted to “win” the argument, I needed to be prepared.
That’s when I saw someone in the car next to me looking at me like I was crazy.
In that moment, I felt I might be.
As I sat there, trying to regain control, I felt more out of control than ever.
The move I was contemplating was straight out of Satan’s playbook:
Focus on self-defense. Pick up the offense and tuck it under my arm and run straight at the other person–full force, and let them have it. All my anger, all my frustration, all my disappointment–don’t hold back! I was right, they were wrong, and all that matters is that they know it–that they feel it. Who cares how my words were communicated–in fact, the more I talked and the less I listened all the better. Winning was what matters.
But somehow, as I sat there in the intersection practicing yelling at the invisible offender in my car–with the guy next to me likely contemplating calling the cops-it didn’t feel like winning.
As much as I wanted the other person to experience every hurt they’d caused me, that choice no longer felt right. Each time I ran through my premeditated narrative, a warm, sick feeling arose in my gut. A physical reaction I’ve come to recognize as the Holy Spirit prompting me to stop and seek His wise counsel before I sin.
Because the truth is, I’m not right, and neither are you. When we seek our vengeance over God’s peace, no matter how convincing our argument might appear, if Christ isn’t in it, we lose.
This is why we must learn to retrain our thoughts. The world urges us to look out for self first. Contrarily, God’s Word challenges us to, “Do everything in love,” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV).
But how do you do that in the heat of an argument? How is it possible, as James writes, “to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry?” (James 1:5, NIV).
Step away from the conflict. Sometimes putting physical space between you and the offender is necessary to finding clarity and direction. Remember, it’s okay to be angry, but in our anger we must not sin. Sometimes distance prevents us from saying or doing things we cannot take back. Choose to step away from the argument by stepping into communion with God.
Once alone with Him, share your hurts and offenses with God. Express your thoughts to Him through prayer and/or journaling. Get it all out with God, putting everything on the table – casting your anxiety on Him because He cares for you, (1 Peter 5:7).
Next, trust God’s way over yours.
Set aside what you think is best and ask God for His best. What is He revealing to you about the condition of the hearts involved? Is there something the other person might be wrestling with that is influencing their behavior? What is it He wants to teach you through this struggle? Is there something missing in your own self-value or worth that’s driving a need to be right? To be heard? Why is “winning” so important? And why does this hurt so much?
Do you need to forgive? Do you need to apologize? Are there still words to be spoken, or points to be understood? Take as much time as you need to work through these matters of the heart but resolve to move forward. Take your queue from His playbook: Respond in love.
I’m relieved to say I never had the opportunity to voice all the ugly things I’d wanted to throw at my offender. It wasn’t because I didn’t see them again, but because I’d talked it over with God and I no longer felt the need to say anything. I forgave them and release everything else to Jesus. God helped me choose peace over tension, joy over grief, and love over validation.
Following God felt like winning.
Let’s talk about this! What steps can you take today to seek God’s perspective and wisdom for a conflict you’ve experienced or are experiencing?
Inviting God into our arguments takes practice. What are some things you can do to help develop this discipline?
If today’s post encouraged you, make sure to grab a copy of Drawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:
Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.
Buy it HERE.
We also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Bible study, based on the life of Sara. You can find it HERE. You can watch the first week’s video HERE.
Get to know Kimi!
Kimi Miller lives in Papillion, Nebraska, with her husband and two teenage sons. She stays busy taking care of their home, their two high-strung cattle dogs, and working part-time as a secretary at the local police department. She is a United States Air Force veteran and former pastor of women’s ministry. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and a Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a concentration in theology. One of her many God-sized dreams is to organize a free city-wide women’s ministry event that spreads the love and hope only found in Jesus. Her laughter is contagious, as is her passion for the Word of God. You can read more about Kimi at her blog www.kimimiller.com.
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