Close your eyes. Breathe in for four seconds. Hold for four seconds. Breath out for four seconds. Hold for four seconds. As I understand, this is one way that folks like Navy Seals and military snipers stay calm under highly stressful situations. Breathing to stay calm can help you too. When? Whenever you begin to feel stressed, angry, or anxious. And calming down instead of reacting is good for your body and mind and relational and spiritual health. The last two areas will be our focus today, even though all four areas touch our relationship with God and Christian maturity. In the process, I’ll offer some tips for healthy conflict resolution.
In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus explained that we must not allow anger to manifest in slander or physical harm. The text also tells us to correct any wrong we’ve done against other people. In other words: resolve conflicts and reverse sinful actions against others. Open confrontation helps keep little misunderstandings or minor infractions from becoming gaping wounds that may never heal. Healthy confrontation to resolve conflicts can also reduce the likelihood of practicing anti-God behavior against others, which will earn a spiritual death sentence and exclusion from God’s Kingdom (Revelation 22:14-15; Galatians 5:19-23).
Here’s an example of how this can work: Breathe in. 1-2-3-4. Hold 1-2-3-4. Breathe out. 1-2-3-4. Hold. 1-2-3-4. “Excuse me: I need to let you know that accusing me of stealing without proof hurt. Next time, please talk to me first.” And then breathe. Or “Your hateful comments and gossip tear down and don’t build up. Let’s talk.” Breathe . . . Now, the other person may not be receptive or may react negatively. You can’t control that. The point is that we must do our best to calmly but firmly address issues to help ensure that minor conflicts don’t get out of control and result in sin (rebellion against God’s ways). Is there anything else you can do to reduce tensions and not sin? Sure!
Besides the breathing I mentioned, you can remove yourself from a toxic situation to avoid reacting out of anger. If that’s not possible, remain calm and do your best not to react to keep from sinning. Allow reconciliation to work. Here’s what Jesus said about this in Matthew 5:39: “. . . whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” And Paul reminded the Ephesian church not to sin out of anger and retain healthy relationships by “not letting the sun go down on your anger.” (4:26).
On a different note, you may occasionally feel ‘spiritually dry’—that God has left you or that you’re not performing some spiritual purpose. So, let’s go there next week!
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley