I was a big fan of Mr. Rogers as I was growing up, so I was excited for my kids to watch the spin off called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. In case you aren’t familiar with it, it is about the family of Daniel Tiger-the puppet from the the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to which Mr. Rogers always referred. In each episode, Daniel Tiger learns a life lesson set to a catchy tune. Today’s was about empathy (you have to sing this)-“Think about how someone else is feeling.” I thought to myself, “That’s good word Daniel Tiger’s mom. Adults need reminded of that too from time to time.” Put that together with another of my favorites (remember to sing it)-“When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath. . .and count to four,” it makes a powerful statement about handling conflicts.
It’s hard to keep our cool when we feel that we or another member of our family is having our character and integrity attacked; for instance if we feel that we are either directly or indirectly being called a liar. Sometimes counting to four just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes we need to sleep on it before responding to a text or email that we find aggressive. Sometimes it helps to tell someone who is wise and mature and has similar moral integrity what we are thinking of typing before we send it. If we are talking face to face, we can talk slowly and pray between sentences; and of course, there is always walking away.
We can’t let pride get in the way. Our natural inclination can be to respond in kind, with what we think is a better insult. After all, we don’t want to let someone walk all over us or treat us badly. We want to win the battle. However, no one wins in a situation like that. We are called to “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) and to be “blameless” (Ephesians 1:4, Genesis 6:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, etc.). That can be super hard. Sometimes I feel like Bruce Banner trying to subdue the Hulk. I have to admit, there are times I start to turn green and growl and I have to turn to God for help before I turn into the monster. Thankfully, God’s grace covers that too.
It is possible to defend ourselves and our integrity without stepping into sin. We can pray for God’s direction, pray for the other people involved, and even ask God to show us their point of view. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding and can be cleared up if we can just talk it out. Other times, we need to acknowledge that we have done all we can, we need to let it go, and we need God to take care of the rest. The important thing to remember is that we only “win” if we follow God’s direction and please Him above all else. We need to remember that no matter what others may say about us or our families, He knows our heart. He truly knows us. Pleasing Him is what’s important.