Giving up the fight

Not many people enjoy arguments. For me, avoiding conflict feels better. Yet, when dealing with issues, those closest to me become an easy target. Growing up in the 60’s gave me an opportunity to be sufficiently warped by TV shows like Ozzie & Harriet and Leave it to Beaver. Back then television families just got along, and we were supposed to as well.

As a youngster, I admired how my dad seemingly could alter the course of an emotional river, becoming softer, not louder. But the 60’s also ignited women’s liberation and my mom got a new role model: Gloria Steinem. I Am Woman Hear Me Roar. This wasn’t an invitation for peace in our home. I compared the tactics of my dad to my more vocal mom. Like children everywhere, I watched and learned. I wanted to be a peacemaker like Dad.

Fast-forward to my getting married, raising kids, dealing with monthly bills & the typical job issues. Conflicts were inevitable, but I still could choose how to respond. Did the whole peacemaker lifestyle work out? As much as I tried to be like my dad, when I got angry, my mother’s approach often became mine. If you don’t win, you lose, right?
But something from my childhood remained: I remembered how arguments could be harnessed. Often it was the initial response that made all the difference. It was like water poured on the fire before it consumed the house. Better approach; better results.

Anyone who has lived in aftermath of a raging dispute knows that no one really wins. Many fights are over things that won’t matter in a week’s time. And the rest probably won’t matter in a year.

I have realized, rather belatedly, that I would like to give up fighting. Does this mean I give in? It could. Will I never have another dispute? Yeah right. But as I look back, some of my senseless arguments could have been avoided by employing my dad’s technique of listening really, really hard and finding out what was in the other person’s heart. I may not always succeed, but saying less and listening hard is not a bad place to start.

Proverbs 12:18 (New Living Translation)
"Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing."

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