End the Conflict in Your Home
“Do not give repay evil for evil. Do not retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9a–NLT) Following this advice would change how families operate, wouldn’t it? Think about it…the word translated blessing comes from the Greek word “eulogeo” (eulogy) and means “to praise” or “to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers-asking God to bless.” In other words, Peter advises us to respond to insults by asking God to bless the person who insulted us. Although that word of advice could end conflict in almost any home, it is very difficult to put into practice. I don’t know about you, but my first impulse is not to “bless.” My first impulse is to defend, attack, or respond with a like comment to make them feel as bad as I do. Unfortunately, that kind of response only escalates the conflict. But, responding with a “blessing…” What a difference that could make! Just imagine how families might change if each person made a commitment to respond to any insult or base, wicked comment with a blessing. “You’re an idiot” would elicit a simple smile and a silent prayer for God to bless the person who insulted you. Fighting would decrease because the person doing the insulting would have no one to fight against—it “takes two to tango.” In the silence of our “eulogy,” the insulter might recognize their wrong-doing. Perhaps they would recognize the pain and unfairness of the insult when we respond with kindness, blessing them with the acknowledgement of some positive quality about them. But…it is so difficult to carry this out when someone throws an angry insult in your face. So, here are six tips to help give a blessing in response to an insult.
· Pause, Slow Down, and Breath. When a family members makes an insulting comment, do not respond immediately. Pause, slow down and take a deep breath…maybe two deep breaths. Take as many deep breaths as you need to help you calm down before you respond.
· Remember Yourself. Remember the type of character you want to live out. You want to live out your values…and, chances are, your values do not include insulting others or making rude comments. Remember the kind of person you are, the values you want to practice, and the memories you want others to have of you. The more we act and speak out of our values, the greater joy we experience in life.
· Remain Calm. The calmer you remain, the less the situation will escalate. It is generally a good idea to keep your voice tone calm and your volume lower than the other person’s. This can help de-escalate the situation rather than escalate the conflict.
· Remember Anything Positive. Think about the person who is insulting you. Remember the positive interactions you have had with this person. Remember the joys you have shared, the fun times you have experienced, and the moments of intimacy you have enjoyed. Realize that the person you are talking to is more than just the insult they have thrown out.
· Consider the Times. Look beyond the insulting statement, gesture, or facial expression and consider any circumstances that might contribute to the current situation. Would the other person normally act this way or are their actions impacted by some stress in their life? Are they experiencing stress at work? With children? With their schedule? In their anger, are they talking without thinking? This does not justify the insult; but it may help you respond out of empathy rather than defensiveness.
· Offer a Blessing. Say a silent prayer for the person who insults you. If possible, offer some word of affirmation or gesture of kindness. Sometimes a simple hug or statement (“I love you,” “You are special to me,” “I appreciate all you do for me”) can help the other person calm down and recognize the inappropriateness of their behavior. Part of a blessing may include establishing, with a calm and loving tone, a clear boundary regarding the kind of behavior you will accept or not accept. When everyone has calmed down, you might discuss how such insults affect you and explain that you will not walk away from any future discussions that falls to the level of insulting. Develop a plan for how you will avoid letting conversations stoop to insults. Setting such a limit and developing an appropriate response is, in my opinion, a blessing.
To offer a blessing in response to an insult takes intentional effort. It does not come natural to most of us. However, to offer a blessing in response to an insult will bring a blessing to all. Conflict decreases. People learn, grow, and change. And the whole family inherits the blessing of growing intimacy.
PS-If you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, these recommendations do not necessarily apply to you. Your health and safety are of utmost importance. Please visit this Domestic Violence Website for direction and guidance that is directly applicable to your situation.