The subject line of his email read “People are messy.” Now that’s a a piece of bait almost everyone can relate to. And as I clicked through to see the rest of his content I almost laughed out loud 😆 his video message was entitled, CONFLICT.

Oh how I wish we were all seated on my living room sofa together, cozied up and sharing our war stories of conflict. Why is conflict so especially difficult for women? Whether it’s in your family sphere, your professional sphere, or dare I even say in your friendship sphere – can we all relate that if we had a choice we would never, yes I said never, engage in conflict?

This is the attribute that I have had to work through the most. It’s the attribute that has broken me down and built me up as a person. The attribute that calls me to stick up for myself and others has forced me to learn how to pick my battles and fight right.

And what I’ve learned is, knowing how to fight gives you courage.

Sometimes when I’m on my morning jog I fantasize that I have one of those totally ripped P90X bodies and the kung fu fighting skills to go with it. I think I’ve created an alter ego. She is the physical embodiment of my inner convictions. She emerges when I’m faced with battling the things and people that are wrong and unjust in my life. She belongs in every Marvel movie sticking up for what’s right and fiercely upholds the truth. She is everything I aspire to be.

Alas, when my jog is finished and the endorphins subside, she is gone, and I am left to do the fighting on my own.

I have a deep need to see all things GOOD, RIGHT, and JUST prevail in every way and my fight girl goes into battle mode when I’m faced with these conflicts. However, her superpowers are fiction and the real me, the “please God don’t make me engage in conflict” me is left to strive and sweat for the GOOD, RIGHT, and JUST on her behalf. I’m learning this is the hardest of all the ATTRIBUTES for me to develop. This post is for me.

Here are a few tidbits I’ve gleaned from my battle scars.

#1 – YOU HAVE PERMISSION. I needed permission. If you’re a rule follower like me sometimes you just need permission. You have permission. It’s always OK to stick up for yourself and others.

#2 – KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES. This one takes time. Decide what you will and won’t tolerate for yourself and others in your care. (which might include strangers at times!) If you can, make a list about words and actions you will and won’t allow in your presence. You need to know your own boundaries before you can protect them.

#3 – PROTECT YOUR BOUNDARIES. This step is where courage needs to kick in. We all operate with a different code of conduct so expect that people will violate your boundaries. You need to decide how to give a “warning” and when you need to load your weapon.

#4 – USE YOUR WORDS. Your words are your ammunition. You need to know how to carefully and confidently address a boundary violation. Most people know how to manipulate, avoid, and use their words in a destructive manner, few know how to fight right.

I’ve learned in most cases you will be leading yourself and the other human through this process. It’s hard. Humans are wired with the fight or flight instinct – learning how to fight in a way that makes someone else feel like flight isn’t their only option is a life skill – a relationship skill.

As I said before, this has been the hardest ATTRIBUTE for me to develop. I’ve got battle stories with both positive and negative endings. Mostly, the relationship has at least ended in mutual respect. Sometimes there wasn’t a need to either deepen or continue the relationship and the discomfort of the conflict just sent each party on their way. No outcome is ever guaranteed that’s why we have to decide early what battles are worth fighting.

The point is this, we don’t know our future and it might just be that the greatest work we are ever led to do will require us to have the courage to fight. The world needs skilled fighters, courageous leaders, and P90X kung fu girls with hearts full of conviction. What about you… do you have an alter ego?

ATTRIBUTE # 5

PICK YOUR BATTLES

If you’ve got tips in this area I’d love for you to share them with the rest of us.

Until next week – be strong and courageous,

8 thoughts on “The world needs skilled fighters

  1. M: this is such a rich content blog read. Have to re-read to digest. THANK YOU for posting in such relatable thoughts. This was a good one to chew! Love, Toni Lee

  2. Morning Melissa! I printed THINK and hung it by the phone at my desk…. great reminder even as we answer the phone. I remember Ms Donna sharing that years ago and have it squirreled away in my bible somewhere. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom!! Love ya!

  3. Wow, Melissa! I love this post. The hardest part about picking battles for me is no longer actually which battles to pick. I’ve gotten pretty good about only confronting the ones in which I think the outcome will have a important impact. The challenge that I struggle the most with is your tidbit #4, “use your words”. Somehow, the words usually leave my mouth before my brain can catch up with them. If I’m hurt, my words intend to hurt back. If I’m being attacked, my words are defensive and attacking. I try my hardest to remember the analogy of once the toothpaste is squeezed out of the tube, it can never be put back in neatly. Same with words once they exit my mouth. Even if I apologize for my hurtful words, they have already been heard and they can’t be unheard. Thank you for the reminder that it’s important to be a skilled fighter and not just a fighter.

    1. Lauren – I think we can all relate. I must have been a natural at firing back fast because my father you to constantly speak things over me about my words as a child. Thus – I write, it helps me measure my words. But life doesn’t always give us the time to measure does it. I’ve prayed for God to help me in this area – which has helped immeasurably. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’m with Toni. This one requires a little more digesting.

    I’m not great at fighting. I have often defined myself as a classic “conflict avoider.” I don’t think I was always this way. Some of it stems from my first marriage, where–initially–I would speak my piece and subsequently be belittled or mocked for it, and in the worst cases, my words would be twisted to the point where I became the fault of every problem in our marriage. I eventually learned to just not open my mouth anymore. I took that “lesson learned” out of that marriage and into all my relationships afterwards. Including family. I didn’t trust anyone. I just stopped fighting altogether. In the case of “Pick your battles” I chose none. Zero battles.

    Of course, I’m not that same person anymore–I’m in a good marriage, where my opinions and words are valued, but the lesson still goes deep. My family relationships are still dysfunctional and I am guarded and hold my tongue a lot. However, I realize there are some people in my family who actually need me to stand up for them. To wade into that messy territory for their sake, not necessarily my own. It will require courage on my part, for sure.

    As we’re going through these attributes one by one, I realize God is dredging up memories and circumstances that I have long buried. Things that he wants me to deal with before I can move forward wholeheartedly. I have lots of work to do in cultivating courage, but I feel like I’m finally moving my feet. Thank you.

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