The way we handle controversial situations, disagreements and points of contention is a major key to our well-being. Your overall physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual health – and the same for those around you – can be enhanced by properly handling controversy.
I recently tweeted that engaging in difficult conversations is the gateway to learning, and learning brings on growth, and growth is the key to being fully healthy. But how we engage is extremely important. Hopefully you will find the following principles and example helpful:
Principle #1: Controversies must be about opposites. If you engage in a disagreement where the two viewpoints are not opposites, you will only manage to frustrate and be frustrated. For example, I will not engage in a debate on Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. Life and choice are not opposites. Death is the opposite of life. Compulsion is the opposite of choice. I will agree to a conversation on the merits of these opposites.
From the beginning of time, our Creator has allowed for choices. (Please do not read that statement as saying that God is “Pro-Choice”. That is a label, and the problem with labels is that they take on a life of their own and mean different things to different people. See my blog post Labels that Divide from December 1, 2021.) Choices comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are between good and bad; some between good and better; still others between options that do not differ all that much, good or bad. In speaking of controversy, though, we most often are dealing with choices between good and bad.
When choices are made, the resulting consequences differ depending on the choice. Those consequences, in some cases, may literally be a matter of life and death. I would contend that the consequences of most choices are more or less a matter of life and death, in the sense that they raise or lower the quality of life – for the choice makers and those around them.
God, in allowing choice, made this concept clear, and He repeated Himself on the matter:
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” – Deuteronomy 30:19
When we have the ability to choose, which – let’s face it – we always have regardless of the laws of God or man, it is in our best interest to choose life. And it is also in the best interest of those around us.
Principle #2: Be gentle and reasonable. Our well-being is tied up in the well-being of our fellow humans. Speaking harshly and refusing to listen to alternate viewpoints will stifle growth for everyone involved in the conversation. Choosing life & blessing over death & curse leaves no room to disrespect or withhold blessing from any life; even those who disagree with you.
I would love to engage in difficult conversations with you. It is my commitment to preserve your dignity and it is my ultimate desire to see you become increasingly healthy in all ways.