Because we are always this happy and joy-filled when we’re together . . . Riiiiight . . .
My boys, who are fifteen months apart and ages 10 and 11, had a doozie of an argument on Saturday night. Tears. Fists. Pushing. Good grief, it was a Jesus-take-the-wheel moment if ever there was one.
After a cooling off period, we came together in the living room and both boys shared their hearts. After more tears, we arrived at a place of intense brotherly love and they were back to being the best of friends.
Oh, if all disagreements could end so beautifully.
If we all learned anything about the election of 2016, it’s this: we clearly need to work on communication and how to disagree with with each other.
And, truth be told, it wasn’t just the election – though it was the precipitating event that brought this challenge to the surface.
I don’t know about you but I’m pretty certain there is not one person on this planet that agrees with me on every single little thing and I don’t need everyone to agree with me. I do, however, need and want us all to be respectful of each other regardless of our opinions and beliefs.
Two events in my extended family occurred over the past two years and sadly, it’s caused me to have to take a giant step back from those relationships. Heartbreaking? Yes. However, it had nothing to do with the issues we didn’t agree on and everything to do with how it was done.
When we disagree with someone and communicate it in a healthy, loving way but are met with blaming, scolding, belittling and an inability to see the other perspective, then it might be time to get the h*&^ out of dodge. That’s not respect or relational safety.
But what if you can’t get the h**& out of dodge? What do we do when faced with a situation in which we are point blank asked about how we feel about something but we’re apprehensive to share it because of the fall-out?
We don’t have to fear disagreement because we have the right to believe what we want. No one is allowed to say you’re wrong, or belittle you for believing what you believe or tell lies about you that paint you as intolerant, judgemental and rude. That’s just plain disrespectful and you wanna talk about being a bully? There you have it right there.
I’m still very much a work in progress and certainly under construction. I am evolving daily as I seek Jesus (not the church, mind you. Jesus. Big difference. More on that in the future.) I’ve messed-up in my own disagreements and done things well. Of course, my failures were my best teachers.
So how do we disagree with each other and still preserve the relationship?
Well . . . here’s the thing: you may not preserve the relationship. I had to walk away from two of those relationships and in my world, that’s a last resort. However, sometimes that’s the most healthy choice you can make because when someone is downright unkind and disrespectful and shows no remorse? That reveals a whole lot of what’s going on in their heart. It’s not really about you. But you don’t have to be around that and quite frankly, it creates distrust and if there’s no trust, then those relationships need to stay very on-the-surface or just not at all.
But if two sides come to the table and value the relationship more than being right, then there’s promise.
Here are five ways to “be” during a disagreement:
1. Be candid. When we are “honest,” oftentimes, we have our own heart as the priority and not the heart of the other person. Everyone has seen/heard the person holding up one finger, circling their head, repeating the “I’m just being honest” zinger, usually followed by an insult just delivered. However, if we are candid, then we have the heart of the other person as our priority and we are speaking truth with love.
2. Be an active listener. Remember how we talked about the difference between hearing and listening? Hearing is just registering noise. Listening is really thinking about what the person is saying. You are looking at them as they’re saying it. You are showing positive body language. You are NOT formulating your response as they are speaking. This is not a debate. This is a disagreement. Big difference. A debate is reserved for the courts and speech teams. A disagreement is reserved for learning, listening and loving well.
3. Be open. Be willing to see the issue from the eyes of the other person. Listening to the other side without judgement or contempt just might lead to positive change for you. It also may not but at least be open. Closed-off people who know all the answers aren’t usually very popular friends or serve as an inspiration of how to be.
4. Be humble. You know what’s so funny? I’ve actually changed my opinion on what led to the disagreement within my extended family. Now granted, it was not because of the way it was handled because that was horrible. Other factors influenced my heart and allowed me to see the issue the way Jesus would see it – and that led to change. So how would Jesus see a disagreement? With humility and love. We see evidence of this all throughout his life. Never once did He ridicule or tell someone how wrong they were or accidentally send unkind emails blasting another person or posting how stupid someone was on social media. Doesn’t that just sound so incredibly immature? And yet, friends, it happens.
5. Be wiling to agree to disagree and move on. This part is up to you. You can choose to let this get in the way of your relationship or not. However, if the person you are speaking with has not been kind, you’ll want to pray that one over. How someone conducts themselves in the heat of the moment is often an indicator of who they are. That doesn’t mean there can’t be grace. We’ve all said and done less-than-stellar things to other people. This just means they were 1) toxic, 2) showed no remorse and 3) didn’t later apologize or show any trace of humility. Definitely something to sit-up and take note of when it comes to who will hold your heart well.
In the end, I can’t think of one issue that is worth our relationships. Let you be you and them be them. But preserve and be careful with your own heart, too.