Even boring, mild-mannered people have sudden bursts of emotion, excitement, and outward joy at times. A celebration of a championship for their favorite sports team or a last second victory (in a single meaningless game?). Tears of joy for the birth of a child or a baptism. When something great happens, why hold back? Enjoy the moment.
But what about when little things go wrong?
How do we react?
My pastor and friend delivered some solid life advice in sermon that has really stuck with me for these situations. I believe the sermon subject was relationships. He simply said this:
I don’t recall the biblical context or application that was applied, so I’m forced to provide my own from Colossians 3.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Since that day, I’ve paid careful attention to what triggers so many conflicts (my own and others).
In almost every situation where senseless or unnecessary conflict arises, there is a common denominator:
One of the involved parties overreacts to the actions of another.
Thirteen hours in a car with mom, dad, and four kids on a family trip……..what causes every conflict? An overreaction! Sure little brother shouldn’t have farted for the 28th time. Conflict arose when big sister acted like her eyes were bleeding and threatened to kill him.
You get the picture. Person A does something they shouldn’t. Person B reacts as if this justifies whatever bad reaction they unleash.
I understand that conflict isn’t always bad and sometimes becomes necessary.
But I think it’s important to think before we speak or act.
Plan ahead. Know what’s important. Know what’s worth fighting for.
When anger rises, ask the right questions, “is this worth getting mad over, worth fighting about?” “Am I about to do something that I’m gonna feel terrible about and have to apologize for later?” “What does my reaction teach my kids or anyone else that’s around?”
James 13 “Bear with each other….”
Be reminded of what’s really important. In the grand scheme of things (especially for Christians honestly seeking biblical and eternal perspectives), most things we get worked up about simply aren’t worth getting worked up about.
I’d spoken a little more harshly.
I’d been a little less patient.
I’d never put myself in the other person’s shoes.
I’d make more exceptions when it comes to following God’s commands. But…….
I’d gotten angrier. Reacted like it was a bigger deal than it really was.
No, of course we don’t say these things.
So why do we continue to get fired up and overreact to things that don’t really amount to a hill of beans?
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Kevin Ward, Jr., a 20 year-old race car driver died in a tragic accident last night after he was struck by Tony Stewart’s car. I’m not a racing expert or even a fan, and I’m not going to speculate on who was at fault. But I am certain of this. Two men found themselves in a situation where their anger rose. Neither man “under-reacted”. If only one had done so, a tragic death could have been prevented.
When something great happens…….don’t be afraid to act like something great happened. Share the moment with others.
When the anger, impatience, and irritation begin to stir……..walk away, count to 10 (or to 1000), pray. THINK.