Life often serves us opportunities to test our level of courage. But the heroism required for running into a burning building or jumping into frigid waters to rescue a drowning man is not what I’m talking about here.
No, I’m thinking of something much more overwhelming. Something that requires a deep conviction coupled with courage of unusual proportions. I’m talking about the candid, face to face conversation when conflict is on the agenda.
Why is it so easy to rationalize, justify, and explain away the need to face the music and do the deed? To go ahead and have the conversation that could quell the anxiety, slay the giants, and restore the normal?
The reasons are numerous. Many of us hear the voice of our dear (sometimes departed) mother, reminding us that “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Or, “Be nice. Be a nice girl.” And we wouldn’t want to let Mom down, now, would we?
Women of a certain age were often socialized to believe that being nice means one doesn’t speak up, speak out, or disagree with others. Smile politely and nod. Go along to get along.
I was fortunate that my mother taught me silence and avoidance were not prosperous paths to peace. “It’s not the vented pot that blows its lid,” she’d say, “it’s the one with the lid screwed on too tight that eventually goes.” That was her theory. Smart lady, my mom.
And God’s Word seems to agree. “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26b NKJV
God wants us to deal with our upset without delay. At least not beyond the end of the day. He wants resolution and restoration for us, but it doesn’t happen unless we can summon the courage to have the conversations that we would love to avoid.
Relationships can be fragile things. They are easily damaged and sometimes irretrievably broken for a number of reasons.
• We insist on our own way.
• We say hurtful things in the heat of the moment.
• We are critical, cranky and crabby – and take it out on others.
• We keep score, rehash old arguments, hold grudges and nurse wounds.
And that’s a partial list. Any of that sound familiar? We are human and this is our humanity at its least attractive.
But, God. God is the master of relationship. His direction to deal with hurt, conflict and anger before the end of the day is designed to protect us. Issues left unaddressed will fester and infect the heart and the mind. It is in the silence that the enemy’s whispers find our listening ear. He accuses others and bolsters our indignation. It does not take long for the chasm to widen and the hurt to be magnified. Refuse to be a partner with the enemy by finding the courage and strength in the Spirit of the Lord. Step up. Step out. Speak up.
Who needs to hear from you before sunset today? Who offended you? Hurt you? Who was the target of your angry words or found themselves on the wrong end of your bad day? I challenge you to delay no longer. Today, make a courageous conversation your path to peace.
And you have to admit, no matter how difficult it may seem, it’s a whole lot easier than the whole burning building scenario.