Friday, April 25, 2014

{{Still Catching up on the A to Z Challenge}} Q is for Quarrel


The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Proverbs 17:14

Have you been in a quarrel with someone…but you can’t remember how it began? A cross (or perceived to be cross) word can start a back-and-forth that just escalates—and suddenly you’re in an argument—maybe not even knowing what it is really about. It’s happened to me and usually I feel silly that something pretty minor escalated (especially when it was with one of my kids…when they were toddlers).

The verse above tells us to “quit before the quarrel breaks out.”

It’s not easy—we all want to prove ourselves “right.” But oftentimes not arguing at all feels even better than proving a point—and it takes less time, too.

I’ve made a point to try to diffuse conflict before it starts (I’m not always successful…it’s my own fault!).

Sometimes it means saying something completely off topic; my favorite is “How ‘bout them Huskers?” (That is especially mood-changing when I say it because those who know me know that I have no idea if the current season is football, volleyball, or basketball…and I have no idea if players in said sports are trying to hit a ball, throw a ball, kick a ball…).  

Sometimes it means we agree to disagree…and one of us has to agree not to insist on having the last word in the agreeing-to-disagree.

Sometimes it means nodding respectfully and not saying another word (I think I have scars on my tongue from doing that…but I didn’t argue!)

Sometimes it means saying nothing…but having that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of “He was soooo wrong…”

All this is to say, it’s not easy to avoid an argument (especially when you *know* you are right). But God wouldn’t have given us this instruction if it wasn’t important to Him.

Maybe He commanded us not to quarrel because so many of our arguments are so minor…but cause so much stress, tension and chaos—stress, tension and chaos that takes our attention away from the Him and doing His work.

Maybe it’s because quarrels can hurt—sometimes really hurt—all involved.

Maybe it’s because quarrels just do not show His love—the love He wants us to show to everyone.

Maybe it’s because quarreling is a bad example to kids and to non-Christians, you know, the whole setting-a-good-example thing.

It’s not easy, but it is His command. And the Bible tells us that Jesus experienced temptation, too—but He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15). The next verse says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.”

So there is my solution for you—when you are tempted to quarrel, draw near to the Lord. Pray that He will guard your tongue…will give you something funny to say…will help you control your words…or even put His hand over your mouth to prevent those words from coming out (even if they would convince the other person that you are right).

Do you get caught up in a quarrel before you realize it?
What will you do today, to stop it before it starts?

I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Romans 12:18

It is possible to live peaceably with most people; if your personalities clash, you either avoid the person or are distantly polite.

However, there are people with whom it is not possible to live peaceably.

Perhaps when you give an inch they take 10,000 miles.

Maybe they are offended by everything you say, and let you know it.

Or have hurt you so badly in the past (or continue to hurt you) you just cannot face them.

Or their values directly oppose yours—and they enjoy trying to force them on you.

What to do? 
  • Avoid the person if possible.
  • Pray that the Lord will give you patience and grace if you have to face the person, and that if words are necessary, the Holy Spirit will give you the right ones. And (this is really difficult!) pray for the person. The only thing I could pray for one person who used to be in my life was, “Please Lord give her Your peace.”
  • Remember the words that follow the above verse: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-20. 
  • Hard as it is (I know, I’ve been in the situation!) be kind if you have to have contact, and let the Lord handle the rest. He knows what has happened; He knows what the best solution is. It might not be your solution; pray for His peace with whatever happens.

Who in your life is impossible to live with peaceably? What will you do next time you see that person? Pray for the Lord’s guidance, and that you will show His love, despite the circumstances.

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is