Reading time: two minutes.
The best water analogy I can think of for Emotional Wellbeing comes from Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Emotional wellbeing is about managing the turbulence that surrounds us so that it doesn’t penetrate the inner life. Quiet waters in the soul are good for everyone.
Today I want to suggest what I’ve found to be the greatest cause of my own internal anxieties when it comes to managing conflict.
My grandson (two and a half) recently enjoyed a trip to the beach. His favorite activity? Riding the waves in daddy’s arms. With his arms around the little guy, my son would wade in up to his waist, then together they’d try to jump over the incoming waves. Lot’s of splashy fun!
A little bit of bumpy water is fun. Too much becomes troublesome.
Bruce Hartung, in “Building Up the Body of Christ,” suggests that a moderate amount of disagreement puts churches in the category, “Problem, to be Solved.” That’s healthy! That’s mission advancement! That’s why we make the big bucks: figure out the room usage calendar, find a couple more Sunday School teachers, create new ways to welcome guests in worship, etc. Fun! Productive!
Disagreement becomes unhealthy, like troubled waters, when it reaches the levels of “Win/Lose” or “Fight/Flight.” Those categories suggest that the problem to be solved has now become personal in nature. People are upset and are taking it to heart. Souls are troubled and want a way out, instead of finding a way through.
The way through usually begins with me. What I’ve found over the years is that when disagreement reaches this level, I’ve been playing the blame game. I’ve taken the disagreement as a personal attack. I’ve gotten defensive over my desired position or preference. It’s become all about me, and the troubled waters have become stirred up in my soul.
The way out begins when I recognize the part I’ve played in the conflict. It takes two to play Win/Lose. If I’m in a Fight/Flight situation, there are a number of us standing in the breakers getting wet.
Thanks be to Jesus, who always provides a way out. Confessing my part in the conflict pours oil on the waters. Recognizing my slowness to listen, my personal biases, my ego running away with my emotions is an opening for forgiveness all the way around. Jesus enters. Forgiveness heals. Relationships are restored.
And, “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.”
Then we get after the problem to be solved with a Christ-centered, mission focused energy.
May the Lord give you and those with whom you serve some warm, gentle waves to ride together!
Thanks for reading.
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