I’m sure some of you had conflict, misunderstandings and offences at Christmas with those who are supposed be your nearest and dearest.
So how does one get over the seething rage, confusion and deep sadness that follows them into the new year?
There are a few things I have learnt which help keep me happy and sane after the festive frustrations and I’d like to share them with you:
- Stop trying to be understood. People are generally bad listeners and consumed with themselves. They have no intention of grasping your heart or hearing what you are trying to say. You can explain and explain until you go blue in the face, but the person will still only see their side of things. So forget it.
2. Don’t go over past conversations in your head and don’t act out sentences you wish you had said. Similarly, don’t imagine trying to make a third party see your reasoning – practising how you would re-tell the matter to them to hopefully gain their emotional support. This doesn’t work and only leads to a more unsettled spirit.
3. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is always a third side to a story. My pastor used to say, “There’s her side, their side and the truth.” This is not necessarily meaning that both parties are lying, but that we judge matters by how they are perceived by ourselves and by what we already know of the character we are in conflict with. For example, if I feel a response was insincere, part of that is because the person is reacting to me out of anger, offence and ignorance of how I feel. They may also have had a similar clash with me before and reacted in the same manner, strengthening my belief that they are being unteachable, uncaring or arrogant. Thus if I go telling my story to an outsider, it will always be bent towards the fact that I feel this person is being unapologetic and treating me with contempt. Only God knows about their true motives and mindset and so, he is the only one who can relate to the situation with full truth.
4. This ‘forgive and forget‘ thing doesn’t mean you are not to guard yourself from being put in a similar situation again – sometimes it’s wise to remember the way a person is predisposed to react and to avoid it accordingly. But it is wise to forget by stop going over things in your mind. Remember the more you focus on how ‘obvious’ it is that you are right, the more it will irritate you that they were ‘wrong’ and were too stubborn or proud to admit it. And the more you focus on how you believed you were wronged, the more it will irritate you and keep you focusing on everything you dislike about that individual. To me, a big part of forgetting means remembering that I am not perfect and that I too am a sinner who will spend my life rubbing people up the wrong way, just because simply put, I am not Jesus.
5. And lastly, Jesus. He had clashes with his close family all the time. No, it’s not dwelt on much in the bible, but we are given snippets of how his relatives just didn’t ‘get’ him. And when at twelve years old, he became a missing child for at least 4 days, his response to his parents when they found him, although not insolent, would have angered the heart of most mums and dads who ever walked this earth.
So try earnestly to forgive, ‘forget’, laugh at yourself and focus on the good things in the people who often make you so mad.
Think about how they are incapable of seeing things your way just as much as you are incapable of understanding them.
Ask God to flood your relationships with his peace, so that pettiness does not destroy your relationships, your joy and your soul.
I wish you a very blessed new year.