Bible Reading: Luke 6:37-38
Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
ANGELICA AND RENEE had been best friends since they sat next to each other in kindergarten Sunday school. But what started as a gleeful partnership on a science report nearly stomped out their friendship. Angelica liked to chat as much as anyone, but when the workload got serious, she wanted to split up the project and get her part done alone. Renee figured Angelica was irked — and she was — when Renee took charge and told Angelica what to do. And neither of the girls did well meeting deadlines which led to nasty slams like “You’re lazy!” and retorts of “Well, you’re stupid!”
If you haven’t experienced any conflict with your best friend, either (a) your best friend exists only in your imagination; (b) your best friend is a pen pal and you don’t speak the same language; (c) one or both of you is an alien; or (d) you and your friend aren’t as close as you think. Whenever you know another human being really well, conflict is inevitable.
When you have a conflict with a friend, you have a choice: resolve the conflict or dissolve the relationship. Here are some guidelines for keeping your fights fair:
Work at openness. You won’t get anywhere thinking you’re always right.
Choose your timing. Arguments break out at awkward times. Wait to settle them until both of you have the time and attention you need to talk things out.
Pick the right words. Think before you speak. Scan your words ahead of time and ask if they will help or hinder working out the problem.
Watch your tone of voice. You can say the right words in the wrong way. If you reek of sarcasm or criticism, your friend will smell you out.
Study your friend’s point of view. See the conflict through your friend’s eyes. Think of how he or she feels instead of how you feel.
Pinpoint the problem. The real issue that started the fight might be more than meets the eye. Your friend, for example, might blow up at something you say — but she was already upset yesterday when you spent time with another friend.
Figure out a solution. Once you identify the problem, decide on a practical, realistic solution. Talk about how to keep the conflict from happening again. Don’t give up until you have worked things out.
Pray for your friend. It’s tough to stay mad at someone you pray for regularly. Tell God you want him to make your heart tender — and ask him to help you love your friend.
REFLECT: What conflict do you have flaming up right now that you need to extinguish?
PRAY: Ask God for a tender heart and a love that won’t let go.