Saturday, September 13, 2014

Microscope or Mirror?

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~Prov. 16:24 

We are watching an eye-opening video series at church entitled "Resolving Everyday Conflict," by PeaceMaker Ministries. It's been very good so far, but last night's session was one of the best.

I've heard and read the Matt. 7:3-5 "get the log out of your eye before trying to take the speck out of your brother's eye" parable preached and taught many times. Yet it's always in the context of examining ourselves before we start judging other's sin. Hearing someone directly apply that teaching to a one on one argument was new for me. 

This approach makes so much sense for derailing a conflict! Jesus' teaching promotes the need to examine ME - my own shortcomings and faults, even in the midst of an argument where I might feel as if I am not the least bit at fault. That's exactly the time when I want to lash out and blame the other person...but we all know how that ends. If instead I could look at my own "log" - my share of the problem that I've brought into this argument - then the inevitable train wreck that's bound to happen once the blame game begins could often be prevented.

"But it IS her fault...she (insert her speck that has totally frustrated you)!" I want to defend myself. I want to be right. I want to point the finger and examine their "speck" with a microscope. Yet, Jesus says I should pull out a mirror instead, and deal with my own part in the disagreement.

Even if I am only 2% to blame, and they're 98% to blame, I still need to start with my mirror and forget about pulling out the microscope. Well...I might feel like those are the percentages, especially in the midst of my anger, but more often than not I'm a lot more to blame than I want to think. Whatever the percentages - no matter how little or much I am at fault, if I could simply say, "You know what? I shouldn't have done (said) that and I'm sorry." Wouldn't that go a LONG way towards defusing the upcoming explosion? Good-bye, log! 

And guess what? That humble, self-examing response almost always results in the other person pulling out their own mirror and saying, "Oh...well, I guess I shouldn't have (insert their speck.)" You've just doused a fire by admitting your own fault, your own "log," in the matter. Even if they don't fess up and apologize for their part in it, their "speck" - at least you've done your part and probably halted the escalating tension, pain and anger that was about to ensue.

Good-bye, log. Good-bye, heated argument. And perhaps, good-bye speck. That's what you were going for, anyway - except now you've done it in a much less damaging way.

Now if I could just remember all of that the next time Nate steps into my kitchen and tries to do things his way...I mean, errr...tries to help. "I'm sorry dear that I like to have one realm in my life where I am totally and unquestionably in charge." Yup...that's a big log for me. ;-)