My last blog post discussed the first half of Ephesians 4:26- Be angry and do not sin. I recommended excusing yourself from a situation in order to use calming techniques before choosing to respond in anger. While this is a wise move, this cannot be where the conversation ends in a fair fight. Whether you are struggling with a spouse, friend, or co-worker, in a valued relationship, it is not fair to the other party to leave and never return. As the leaving party, it is important that you initiate a follow up conversation stating a time and place you would like to reconvene and work toward a solution together.
Now let’s take a look at the last half of Ephesians 4:26, “… do not let the sun go down on your anger.” I recommend that you initiate that conversation within 24 hours- or before the sun goes down again in following with this verse. It is possible that the other party can be growing in anger with the wait, and it will put the entire situation in a better place if a day or less passes between engagements. That gives you fair opportunity to calm, while giving respect and priority to the valued relationship.
This is where you get to practice James 1:19 as quoted in the last post: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Hopefully after spending some time in prayer, casting your anxieties on the Lord, you are able to enter the conversation with a fresh view of yourself and the other party. That being said, depending on the weight of the topic, this conversation may need to take place over time, if you need to step aside again to process and implement your calming strategies once again, and then reconvene. The goal and purpose of this technique is to communicate gently in order to maintain peace in the relationship. It is possible for people to disagree peaceably.
If you are able, it would benefit the conversation to begin where the issue ended. State what happened and how that made you feel using “I statements”: I felt __________________ when you said/did ___________________. If your calming techniques, offered you a new perspective, you can include that here: I now see that _________________________. If not, you can ask for clarification: Could you explain to me what you meant when you said/did _________________?
If you cannot reach a solution, or reconvene without responding in anger, please seek the services of a good mediator. This is a person that needs to be equally invested in each party and unbiased toward the situation, that can speak diplomatically in a way that will build up both parties. A professional mediator or counselor can play this role, if no such person exists in your circle.
If you cannot move past the anger, please contact a counselor to help you process and move forward in your relationship.
**If this is an abusive situation, I do not recommend you returning to the person or the conversation without first contacting a counselor to help you move forward. Let that be your goal for the first 24 hours- to contact a counselor.
For further reflection-
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Proverbs 15:1 (MSG) A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Psalms 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.