What does one do upon encountering a hungry lion? Run or grab a branch and fight? I guess it depends on the circumstances. What happens after? That’s also important.
In times of conflict our possible options are often limited by anger; ironically, that specific emotion is vital for our survival.
The fight or flight response is effective in identifying a potential threat and equipping us to move out of harm’s way – but science has demonstrated that our health was not designed to chronically live under the stress of this response.
In this world there are no guarantees for our safety (that’s why the life, accident, and health insurance industries are so big) – but there is a way for healing. And it is often the non-physical threats that do the most damage the most often.
Damage can be done in many ways: Pottery can be shattered with a one blow or our hearts can be devastated under the corrosive stress of a toxic social environment.
We need to find time tested principles that will serve as our tools and guides to make it through.
We can all agree that there is a real danger in participating in society – but it’s a must. It’s unavoidable and in large part it’s healthy. But like anything belonging to the tangible world it is governed by certain principles, laws, and customs.
When we come away from a moment of conflict and our body has time to metabolize the adrenaline, and all the other juices, we will slow down, stop and wonder; what went wrong? Our mind will struggle to reduce the stress and pain of an altercation because it’s programmed to heal. This process is often hindered by our own thoughts, lack of social support, or so many other things that seem to overwhelm us. Many cope as best they can with what they have.
One powerful tool available to all is forgiveness:
It is curious that forgiveness of the perpetrator(s) is even an option worth considering. After all, shouldn’t we be on our guard against further aggression? Who could blame us?
That’s not the point here. The reality of the matter is we will have to decide if it is possible to restore the relationship; and in many cases, it is a goal worth pursuing – but in other cases, it’s best to move on. In either case, forgiveness is a necessary action. Forgiveness does not mean submission to an agitator – what it means is that you forgive that debt.
Perhaps the person can hear out your complaint and be moved to apologize, or not. In either case, if you stay or leave, forgiveness is healthy. It means you can admit to yourself that THAT moment, now a memory, will not define your present or future. You don’t have to be tethered to pain. You can be free by letting it go and are then free to move forward, unencumbered. Your future self will thank you.
A life of forgiveness is developed with practice. It is also a survival skill that benefits the mind, body, and heart of any person that seeks to grow in it. Forgiveness is on the path of love. When we recognize that all are imperfect, flawed, and vulnerable to human weaknesses it then becomes easier to forgive.
Peace does not always mean the absence of conflict but it is demonstrated in the serenity that you move in while the storm is raging.
To many forgiveness may appear as weakness, but the truth is that holding a grudge does much more damage to the unforgiving person.
That is why wisdom says forgive:
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 NLT
Sometimes it helps to consider children. At their age the conflicts they face should be proportional to their age … often in those conflicts they are quick to forgive…sometimes they get wisdom faster than us.
You know what to do! Be blessed.