This past week I listened to an Andy Stanley podcast about 'Parenting in the 21st Century.' Whether you have kids or you don't, there were a couple key nuggets I found super relevant about relationships.
Love is not easily angered
Andy talks about anger and how in some translations it means 'to stir up.' He gives the analogy of natural peanut butter, and in the jar, it has the whole peanuts at the bottom, the peanut butter on top of that, and then the one inch layer of oil. And before you can spread it, you have to keep stirring it until you start to see the peanuts rise to the top. He says that when we are stirring the peanut butter, we aren't adding anything new to the mix, we are just surfacing what was already there to begin with. So when we get angry, someone or something isn't actually making us angry, they are simply just stirring up (or just bringing up to the surface) what was already there.
What is it that is being stirred to the top? He calls it our 'self-seekingness' - our selfishness to have what we desire or our own way. He goes on to say that no one has made us angry. They have only stirred us up. All close relationships are emotional and they tend to stir up those emotions. Being emotional isn't weakness, it is what he calls 'human-ness.'
What is the source of all conflict, of our anger, and the source of our quarrels? Andy says it is the desire for something that we don't have. We covet it and we cannot get what we want, and as a result, we quarrel and we fight. So in these moments we have to step back and tell ourselves that we are angry because we are not getting what we want. We have to admit it, we have to own it, and it leads us to his next point
Own your slice of the conflict pie!
Form the habit of being in those situations, stepping back, and reminding yourself that part of the problem is that you are not getting want you want. We have to own our slice of the conflict pie! Andy advises that when you apologize to someone, use that opportunity to acknowledge that you lost your cool because you were not getting what you want.
Love keeps no record of wrong
When someone holds your past over you, who is in the elevated position? They are. There is no win in relationships in reminding someone of their past failures. There is no need to open that file cabinet. Forgiving and pretending to forget is always the best bet. Let the world remind them of being wrong, and instead, you be there to loan them your strength.
A couple other key nuggets: be patient. Go at their pace, not yours. Create a culture of mutual honor. Work towards a healthy adult relationship with your children. The most significant thing you do may not be something you do, it may be someone you raise.
So this week as our loved ones stir us up, remember the peanut butter jar analogy as a reminder to own your slice of the conflict pie. By just acknowledging in the moment that you aren't getting what you want will help you step back and re-assess moving forward and moving on.
Here is a link to the video of his whole chat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahssLRipdNI