Several years ago, a woman reported to her boss what she believed to be misbehavior on the part of one of her co-workers, and that co-worker was subsequently reprimanded.
Nothing major, but an official slap on the wrist and documentation in the employee file.
That co-worker was me, and I did not speak to that woman for two years after that.
It wasn’t so much that she found fault with the way I handled a certain situation – everyone is entitled to their opinion – but how dare she go behind my back with bad intent. After leaving the boss’ office that morning, I figured out a handful of suspects who could have been involved, and I asked them one-by-one if they had gone to the big office to complain about me.
Everyone denied it, until I got to the last person on the list. To her credit, she looked me straight in the eye and admitted it. She was still trying to explain when I turned around and walked out of the room, never to return, never intending to speak to her again.
That is a good example of how I handle conflict.
Not a good example of how to handle conflict, mind you, but an example of how I tend to do it.
There’s an old baseball song called “Take Me Out to the Ballgame;” and one line in the song says, ‘For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out …”
In baseball, you get three chances to get it right.
With me a lot of times, it’s one strike and you’re out.
Not exactly the right way to manage a problem.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
One of the reasons for forgiveness, of course, is that holding onto bitterness and resentment takes work. It can be stressful, and perpetual stress is not good for the body and soul.
Carrying that grudge around hurts the grudge-holder the most. The target of those hard feelings has most likely moved on, happily living their life, while you are still back there fuming and stewing and holding onto the past.
Here’s an idea.
Let it go.
Just let it go.
If that’s too tough, I have heard but never been able to make myself try another oft-recommended solution – pray for the person who wronged you.
Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
I don’t know about you, but I find it a real challenge to pray for someone who shoved a knife in my back – or worse – and is now merrily going about their business. Pray for them to get hit by a truck maybe, but that is not what the scripture intends.
Someone told me long ago that if I could not think of anything positive to pray for, I could ask God that my enemy “get everything they deserve.” I think God could see through that one.
Instead, we are to ask for God’s grace and blessings on the person we would really enjoy throttling. Along with avoiding possible criminal charges, this approach also brings God’s loving grace to us. I have always heard that praying daily for two consecutive weeks for someone with whom you are having a conflict will reduce or even remove those resentments that are hurting you a lot more than they are hurting them.
And as a side benefit, you’ll be praying every day, which is never a bad idea.
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