Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone? I know I have. Much more often than I'd like and with much less logical reasons for doing so than I'm proud of. Arguing is one of the things that I hate the most, even though it is one of the things I struggle the most with. In my nineteen-going-on-twenty years on this Earth, I've found that to be the case more often than not--we despise the flaws we see in ourselves the most.
Fortunately, I manage to keep my impulse to argue with people under control...most of the time. Unfortunately, I tend to lose that control most often around my family. That both makes complete sense to me and baffles me. I understand how easy it is to get into an argument with someone that you know as well as a family member--you get what makes them tick, what pushes their buttons, what turns their gears, insert more cheesy metaphors here. On the other hand, however, it completely shocks me that so many of us (I should say all of us) are the most hateful, spiteful, and vitreous towards those that we should really be loving the most.
I'm going on a tangent, though. What I'm really here to talk about is how we should be dealing with arguments. And no, I don't mean heated discussions about theology or stories or anything else. I mean actual tooth-and-nail, yelling, fighting, emotionally rampaging arguments. I've been in a lot of those. That might shock some of you. Most people see the happy-go-lucky, always friendly to everyone Caleb that is me most of the time. And yes, that is actually me. But that's because I have my social guard up. I'm constantly on the lookout for things that could trigger anger in me and I shut them down before they can get me riled up. Sometimes, however, whether it's at home or while camping or in another closed-and-comfortable environment, that social guard is not up as high as it should be, and I start to show that side of me I don't like.
My family knows this side of me very well. Too well for my liking. I can get angry pretty quickly about some very trivial things, if I'm not careful. And the process is always the same. I get irritated, and I start to speak louder. I start feeling a sense of injustice at something that I don't feel is fair rising up inside of me, and it gets to a point where no matter what the other person says, I will stubbornly refuse to back down from my position, no matter how thoroughly it is shown to be faulty. I storm off. And then I realize how stupid I was, start feeling ashamed, sometimes cry, and then crawl back and ask for forgiveness.
I'd really rather just start with the last one. Things would go so much better for me.
This is something I'd like to challenge us all with. The next time you find yourself at the cusp of an impending argument, in the midst of one, or in the fallout of one, make a decision to be humble. No matter how wrong you think the other person is, no matter how right you think you are...apologize. Undoubtedly you did something wrong in the situation (especially if this is an argument with close friends or family), so find what it is and apologize for it, without any excuses. At the very least, you can apologize for arguing. There's rarely ever a good time or place to actually have an anger-filled, ad-hominem laden, full-blown argument. My guess is that wasn't one of those times, so apologize. You'd be surprised how that can change an entire situation.
Most of the time, people quote only the first verse, but I felt like the second verse had a lot to say on this particular topic as well. If you can push aside your pride and your anger and approach someone with humility and peace in your voice, you can change the entire tone of a relationship. As a Christian, our job is to use the knowledge we gain from the Word of God rightly , to bring forth fruit for Christ's Kingdom. This extends to every one of our relationships. Life is too short to hold grudges, to be vitreous, and to go through life thinking you know everything when in fact you definitely don't.
The next time you're in an argument, stop and think about the words that you're saying logically for a moment. Ask yourself a couple of questions. Is what I'm arguing about really that important long-term? Is being angry right now the best possible response to the current discussion? If the answers to those questions is yes, then by all means, continue the argument. If no (and I gather that this will be the answer almost 100% of the time), immediately stop arguing and either apologize or leave the argument to cool down for a bit before coming back and making amends.
It's really a rather simple formula. One that I've been striving to make a habit in my life for quite a few years now. I'm not there yet, but I'd like to think I'm learning and growing as I keep walking towards that goal. Oh, and if I ever get into an argument with you, please remind me of these questions and this formula. It'll probably make my cheeks turn extremely red and I will probably be very embarrassed, but that's probably exactly what I need at that moment. In the end, arguing is really rather a pointless waste of everyone's time, and stems from the sinful pride we all have to struggle to tame every day of our lives.
Here's to trying to tame that lion, no matter how long it takes.