Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Stuffer Who Collects Retaliation Rocks

Today's Unglued Blog Update
Another one of mostly my rewording & adding some of my own to what Lysa said. I just think she hits the nail right on the head!
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ~Romans 12:17-18
The stuffer who collects retaliation rocks....that means my outside is quiet, but my inside is anything but. Beneath the surface, I am an emotional stone factory, churning out rocks--rocks I'll collect & collect & collect & collect. Until one day, wham! Something happens & all that stuffing erupts, & I throw all of those rocks at the person I've been stuffing hurt from. I stuff as a false way to keep the peace. True peacekeeping isn't about stopping the emotion. Remember, emotions move--inward or outward--whether we want them to or not. True peacekeeping is about properly processing the emotions before they get stuffed & rot into something horribly toxic.
So how do I process these emotions before stuffing them? Lysa reminds me: perspective helps. I should ask myself, If I knew this person wasn't coming home tonight, would I still let this bother me? That's a quick question to ask to keep the little things from turning into bigger ones. Or, Will I still remember what I'm so mad about a month from now? If the answer is no, I should probably process the situation & let it go.
But what about those bigger things (lingering hurts, ongoing issues, situations that keep repeating themselves) that I can't seem to let go of as easily? I need a strategy to process these as well. Lysa promises future discussion of how to develop a personal plan for handling conflicts. But for now, I should ask myself one crucial question:
Am I trying to prove that I am right or to improve the relationship?
When I try to prove I'm right, I use the stuffed emotion to justify my rock manufacturing activity. Hurt upon hurt builds rock upon rock as I amass lots of proof that I am right & the other person is wrong. Then, when my stuffing eventually leads to an explosion, I am armed with a rock pile of past hurts & offenses & ready to make my case. Prove my case. Win my case, at all costs. I react from a place of hurt & anger & say things I later regret.
On the other hand, when my desire is to improve the relationship, I seek to understand where the other person is coming from & care enough about the relationship to fight for it rather than against it. Instead of reacting out of anger, I pause & let the Holy Spirit redirect my first impulses.
Then I tackle the issues, not the person.
When I tackle an issues, I need to ask more questions (seems like a lot of questions, but it's a process, not a quick fix). And sometimes the process is internal, there are also times when external processing with the other person is good & necessary. External processing is a great diffuser because it will force me to channel all that pent-up frustration in a proactive way & thus handle the situation rather than harm the relationship.
Lysa has given me some questions that have helped her redirect her focus from proving that she's right to improving the relationship:
  • Will you help me understand why you feel this way?
  • Can we both agree to stick to the issue at hand & not pull in past issues?
  • What is a good desired outcome in this situation?
  • How can we meet in the middle on this issue?
  • What is something good that can come out of this issue--something that will improve our relationship moving forward?
Of course, these questions must be asked with the right tone & an honest desire to better understand the other person (apparently asking these with a snarky attitude will seriously impede any progress). But processing in this way provides for growth opportunities....which is kind of what we want every relationship to have. Working on healthy strategies is worth the imperfect progress. Because I am the one who will benefit from healthy processing. My relationships will improve & my outlooks will be more positive. I'll start to see biblical truths come alive in my life & this will strengthen my relationship with God. And I'll learn to identify rough edges within myself that need attention...such as unrealistic expectations (more on this in my next Unglued blog update).

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