3 Tips to Help Navigate Conflict This Holiday Season

“What are you yelling at me about?” I opened my car door and yelled back at the man in the green vest standing in the street next to me. I had been heading to the gym and following the stream of cars going around a white construction truck parked on the side of the road. A man was setting out cones behind the truck. The cars ahead of me went through the green light, but as I started to proceed through the light a man came around the side of the truck and began angrily yelling at me. Apparently I was supposed to go through the light on the left side of the road, although there were no signs to indicate this, no flaggers to point to this, and it looked like if I drove where he was indicating, I would be headed into oncoming traffic. “Why are you in that lane? You are supposed to be over here?” He gestured to the other lane. He was furious and I am not exaggerating. My own anger rose. “I was following every other car!” I yelled back. I also pointedly looked behind me at the line of cars who were following me. He forcefully indicated for me to continue through the light. His face a mask of utter disgust. I was shocked at the degree of his anger and shocked at the degree of my own. I was spit-fire mad.

I sped through the light and carried my outrage through my workout, barely able to concentrate on what the instructor was saying or doing. I wanted to go back and let this guy have it. As soon as I was finished, I raveled down the same street on my way home. By this time the lane was covered with road construction trucks and I could not see the man anywhere. I took pictures of the trucks parked on the street and when I got to a shopping center, I pulled over and called two of the companies whose trucks were at the job site to lodge a complaint about this out-of-control worker and the disrespect he had shown me and (I am assuming) other drivers. The company representatives I spoke with assured me that this would not be tolerated and that they would take steps to communicate with the employee that this should not happen to other drivers in the future.

I hung up and thought I would be satisfied, but I could not let it go. I met my dear friend for lunch and was distracted throughout our conversation, thinking about the angry exchange with the vested man. After lunch my friend and I went to see “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. It is a touching movie about the iconic Mr. Rogers, about forgiveness, kindness, taking the high road, and grace. All great lessons I had been unwilling to apply with the man in the green vest. We left the movie inspired and motivated to be better people.

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

Kristy, be quick to listen.

Kristy, be slow to speak

Kristy, be slow to get angry.

Wow! Though I did feel at the time the worker needed to be reminded of the importance of treating the public with respect and giving clear directions about where to drive in an active construction zone, I do not know if calling to complain was the right thing to do.. What I do know is that I did not show this man grace enough to consider the dangers and frustrations he must feel on the roads every day. I did not think of how he may have been having a very bad morning or fighting battles of which I had no idea. I know I was not quick-to-listen before I got angry. Instead, I yelled right back at him.

Tis the season of joy, kindness, beauty, family, and remembering the birth of a blessed Savior. It is also the season of possible loneliness, stress, pressure, high-tension and busyness. Lord, I pray for patience and strength and grace during this season. Please help me to first listen, then speak in truth and grace, if necessary. Please slow my quick-temper, so I may handle perceived offense or injustices the way You would have me to handle them. I pray peace for every reader during this holiday season. Thank you, Lord. Amen

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

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