How Can We Resolve This?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” –George Bernard Shaw
There is an old story about a couple who had been happily married for 60 years. They loved each other deeply and had shared everything—except for a small box the wife kept on the top shelf of her closet.
When they married, the wife asked her husband to promise never to look inside the box or ask about its contents. He agreed, and for 60 years he honored his wife’s request—that is until one day when his wife became seriously ill, and doctors told them she was going to die.
The man remembered the box in her closet. He brought it to her at the hospital and asked, if now, he might be able to open it. She agreed. Inside the box he found two crocheted dolls and a roll of money which totaled $50,000. The man was confused.
His wife explained that before they were married, her grandmother gave her a piece of advice: “When you and your husband have an argument you must work hard to reconcile it. But if you are unable to reconcile, keep your mouth shut and crochet a doll.”
The man was impressed because there were only two crocheted dolls in the box! For 60 years of marriage, they’d apparently had only two arguments they weren’t able to reconcile to his wife’s satisfaction!
Then he picked up the roll of money, “What’s this?” His wife explained, “Well, every time I crocheted a doll, I sold it to a local craft fair for five dollars.”
How do we resolve difficulties, conflicts and misunderstandings so the outcome is satisfactory to all parties? Unfortunately there’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy. But the Bible gives some very sound advice on how we engage in the process:
Keep our words few: “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” (Proverbs 10:19).
Listen well before we reply: “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
Be open to correction: “Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear” (Proverbs 25:12).
And above all else, keep calm and listen for God’s voice on the matter: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
How do I approach differences and difficulties with others? Where and how might I hear God’s voice more clearly in those experiences?
My prayer this week – Father, my desire is to glorify you in the way I treat others—when it’s easy and when it is trying. Would you give me insights into difficulties and misunderstandings I have with others? Would you grant me the grace to remain calm, loving, and respectful in every setting? To your glory and honor!