Are you tired of living on a battlefield? Does it seem like every time you turn around there's an argument brewing?
As I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I included some practical ways we can choose our battles wisely and also diffuse some battles so we're not constantly in a warzone with our children. But I realized recently, that these peace-making principles can apply to ANY relationship. That's probably because our battles can be intensified or diffused altogether based on how we - as wives, moms, and girlfriends - choose to react.
Whether you're going head-to-head with your teenager, husband, difficult family member, or anyone else, these steps can help you bring calm to an otherwise chaotic situation:
1. Don't overreact. It's easy for us - especially as moms - to think the worst at times and overreact to a situation by jumping to a conclusion based on too little information. To react emotionally, rather than rationally and maturely, tends to escalate a discussion into a battle, no matter who is involved. This is where James 1:19 is so appropriate, especially in the heat of the battle: "But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." By slowing down to listen thoroughly, we can keep ourselves from over-reacting.
2. Don't lose your cool. Our volume and energy level can escalate or eliminate a battle in the making. After many situations of completely blowing it in this area with my daughter when she was a teenager, I have learned to say a quick prayer in the heat of the moment: "God, help me to respond in a way that will bring about a gentle and loving response from her." When I put the emotional thermometer in my lap and make it my responsibility, it's amazing how well that will diffuse or eliminate a battle, altogether.
3. Don't let your pride get in the way. If you find you are in a "fighting all the time" phase with a child, spouse, or someone else, it may be that another issue is involved. I learned early on in my marriage that if I am triggered into an argument or a defensive position, there is likely an issue of pride in my life. Unhealthy pride. The kind that says "Who are YOU to talk to ME that way?" Pride also says "I am not going to let this person think this way about me." Pride can also rear its ugly head when we think: I've had it. I'm not going to take this anymore! I'm not talking about responding to issues of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. Nor am I talking about responding to disrespect from a child. I am, though, talking about discussions or arguments with others that go sour because our feathers get ruffled and our pride gets hurt. There are times we need to die to ourselves and our desire to protect our image at all costs.
In situations where we are misunderstood, falsely accused, or just treated unfairly, it takes an incredible amount of trust in God to give up our need to defend ourselves and leave our reputation - and our future - in God's hands. He sees our hearts, he knows our motives, and he can protect our name. After all, if we are following him and identifying ourselves with him, then his name (Christ) is our name (Christian). And he is perfectly capable of taking care of his own.
Can you take one - or all - of these steps today and divert or diffuse a battle that is knocking at your door? It is not a sign of weakness to back down from a fight. In fact, Romans 12:18 tells us: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
Choose to diffuse the battle.
Cindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, upon which this article is based. For more on her books and ministry, or to download free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or individual walk with God, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: April 10, 2014