My two largest personal struggles are forgiveness and generosity.
In a way, they go hand in hand. Being generous isn’t just about giving away money or things; it encompasses all things you are able to give, like forgiveness and love.
Christ says to give and forgive generously.
It’s a struggle.
Currently, I am working on slowing my heart rate and evening my breathing. I knew opening those emails would upset me yet I barreled on anyway, gathering anger and arguments as I read each word.
Were I hot-headed, I would’ve already fired off a reply email.
And you can’t take those back. As great as the documentation trail is in certain situations, sometimes it can be damning.
Luckily, my personality type insists that I thoughtfully seek each step I take, including the words I use and the mode of communication I employ.
Think it over. Replay it in your head. Isolate it.
Hm, that’s the hard one… isolating it.
See, I like to drag up old drama and pains. I like to mull over an issue in the light of the past. I recall all the other ways I’ve been wronged as I compose a response.
I have not generously forgiven so I’ve carried the weight of resentment. I have borne my anger like a rusty sword that is just begging to be brought out to slice away, heedless of who all gets injured in the release.
That isn’t healthy.
For me. For the relationship. For people peripherally involved.
This is a relationship rule for every relationship you are in and problems that may arise:
Isolate the current issue.
Do not drag up old shit.
If a wound is festering, instead of ignoring it until something comes along to rip off the scab (think: pus, blood, oozing…ew!), wash your hands and get out the peroxide then the antibiotic ointment.
If you are upset about a past issue, don’t ignore it until something else comes up to add to the pile; take a deep breath and calmly discuss the past issue before another arises.
More issues will arise, you can count on it. That’s one of the darker facets of all relationships, whether with a significant other, friend, family member, fellow non-profit volunteer, coworker, whoever. There will always be some form of conflict.
It is up to you to handle it with grace.
Take each conflict as a whole rather than a part of a past problem.
I’m not saying to completely ignore past problems. Far from it! If this is a repeating pattern, you can look back and say you have tried, that you took each issue as an isolated incident and attempted handling it with grace. If another problem comes up, and it is so much like the other issues you’ve had with this person, then reevaluate you. Not them.
Isolate the problem and remember that you are as much a common denominator as they are.
A pattern of negativity or conflict or abuse may become apparent. At that point, take stock of your behaviors and feelings…and think hard about your next step.
Do not fire off an ugly email. Do not raise your voice or vent to those who are peripherally involved.
Take a deep breath.
Isolate this incident.
Handle it with grace.
Then take steps to insure it cannot happen again.
If that means you remove that person from your life, or you severely limit your interactions with that individual, do it. If that means you walk away from that project or that location, so be it. Your health and the health of those you care about that are involved are both much more important than grabbing tightly to your pride or your sense of righteousness in this situation or against this person.
Isolate the issue.
But if this is a common theme within your relationship with a person…
Isolate them away from you and those you love.
Handle it with grace.