Thursday, January 2, 2014

Atomic Bombs and Rights and Wrongs.

I've been meaning to write this for some time, but while I'm mulling taking the Christmas tree down and looking for the energy to do that, I thought I'd write this.

I know most people might think "Yeah, I already know this" about what they are about to read, but I don't think we do.  Otherwise we wouldn't have the problems we do in society.  Also, I've never heard this taught this way, it is clearer than anything I've heard.  

Marriage and life are full of friction.  Imperfect people imperfectly bumping into each other, most often unintentionally.

And then when you have kids, you get the things about who-started-what and find yourself with all sorts of complicated issues seen through the eyes and narrative of a child which become really hard to sort out.

One of my friends once said "I don't care about fair or right or wrong, I just want quiet" when referring to parenting.  Quite profound in those moments of frustration when you think about it.

Well, when dealing with kids, getting down to right and wrong and sorting it out....well, good luck with getting down to what happened and who is right and having them understand it and having it stick.

The simple fact is, life isn't fair.  Not ever.  I even got fired which wasn't fair from a company that dealt in human trafficking and misery (when it wasn't properly operating its group homes) because I refused to fold on my convictions and I was the best manager they ever had or ever will have. 

But it isn't about how fair it is or isn't - it's about how you deal with it.  It is necessary that we suffer offenses in this life so we can learn how to handle it.  Companies look for people who can handle the rough spots in life and business so they know you can help them compete (and so they can exploit you and keep you quiet while they rape your psyche and personal life).

This in mind, when my kids ramp up, to me it isn't about who or what was right, it is about how they treat each other.

When we treat each other right in the dispute, the dispute resolves its self much quicker.  We don't need an IRS Tax Code or Law of Moses for our interpersonal disputes, we simply treat each other as the Lord would have us in the second great commandment and things take care of themselves.
But don't forget I love you!

One of us may err, but giving the other the benefit of the doubt as we would wish, helps resolve the issue much faster - thinking "Ah, they're a nice person, I'm sure they didn't mean thaaaat." Or, asking them, "did you mean....x,y,z?" and giving them the chance to explain rather than accusing them instantly and putting them on the defensive and dropping an atomic bomb on the relationship while simultaneously saying "I love you!" helps the relationship progress smoothly.  Even if things are wrong, treating the other as we would wish to be treated, or parting in peace or at least peacefully is better for our spirits than going to war with loved or formerly loved ones and associates and business partners in the quest to "be right" or be seen as right.

Actually I have a couple things I have to work on in these areas professionally - one is reflective listening in times of conflict (i.e. "so you're saying that....").  Which I don't do.  I'm skilled at socratic questioning (philosophical questioning to establish a truth) and motivational interviewing (using questions to identify thought patterns, beliefs, and hidden issues) but reflective listening, not so much.

As gratifying as it is to not apologize, or to see apologizing as a failure on our part or as a sign of weakness, we can apologize for any un-christlike conduct we may have had towards them as we focus on our own repentance (we have to focus on our repentance because we can't repent for anyone else or make them repent).

"Yah, but I'm not going to apologize to everyone all the time because sometimes I didn't do anything wrong!" the imaginary people in my head are saying to me right now.  Well, maybe so, but being willing to look for the beams in our eyes can help us see the specks in others' eyes and resolve things much easier, clearly and equitably than focusing on "wrong and right."  Focusing on Christian conduct and humility helps us achieve not just right, but good, much more easily. It also gives us power in the area where we have the most control: ourselves and how we respond.

Unfortunately this is easier said than done very often because the human brain and emotions HAVE to be right more than our lungs need air (its called cognitive dissonance).  I suppose learning to do all this and deal with it is what is meant by conquering the natural man.

I wish I could say I was perfect at this, but I'm not.  But understanding the principle has made finding peace in my relationships much easier and smoother.  It has also made parenting much easier and I think that it is helping my children prepare for grown-up life much better.

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