The other day I slipped and fell in my basement. The whole area is carpeted except for, like, three feet at the bottom of the stairs, but that’s all the space I needed to fall on my ass.
I slipped on a dog bone. One foot flew out in front of me, and the other bent under me. The fall looked a little like this, only with less guitar and more angst. I can’t say for sure how the swearing measured up.
The entire one hundred and *cough* pounds of my body weight landed on my left knee and ankle. Now, some might think one would lie there on the floor for a period of recovery – whether it be of body or ego. But no. I instantly flew through the air several times like this, still with less guitar but for certain with more swearing.
In that moment I created more derivatives of the word “fuck” than ever existed before.
After floundering like this for a few moments, I finally collapsed on the floor again and cried. Not only was I in pain, but because of the history of my back and neck problems, I knew I was in for a long, full-body recovery and several visits to the chiropractor I didn’t have time for.
This is how I deal with conflict.
I get Uma Thurman mad, swear a lot, and kick a few things. There is much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.
Sometimes this happens outwardly, and I flail about or throw something; sometimes when faced with conflict this happens inwardly, and I seethe in my own bitterness.
Either way, something’s not going the way I want it to, and woe to the obstacle blocking my path.
Telling a different story.
I’ve struggled with anger for as long as I can remember, and there’s not much you can tell me about how I’m supposed to act when facing conflict that I don’t already know. It’s not for lack of information that I lash out in rage, but for lack of character.
And this is what finally clicked for me while attending Don Miller’s Storyline Conference last weekend – in many ways, I tell a really shitty story with my life.
In the way I respond to conflict – or anything that doesn’t happen the way I expect it to – I tell the story of a God who criticizes, who is inflexible, withholding, and loves only when his expectations are met. I tell the story of a God who isn’t very much fun.
You may not see it this way from where you stand, but this is primarily the story I tell my kids. And when it comes to stories my kids will remember after I’m gone, I know I can tell better ones.
So going forward, when faced with conflict I will attempt to do less floundering and more reflecting; less swearing and more praying; less Eeyore-ing and more praising.
I want my kids to know the story of a God who loves unconditionally and walks us through our darkest moments with compassion.