My youngest child is like so many others in that he speaks, unfiltered, whatever is on his mind. “Why do you have to be so hard to live with?!” he cried after I issued his punishment for the crime of disobedience. What he did wasn’t terrible – he simply chose not to listen to me until he was ready – and his punishment wasn’t earth-shattering, either. (Although, to a 6-year-old boy, losing a few hours of Wii is close to earth-shattering.) The point of my response wasn’t the level of severity of his bad behavior and the point of his response wasn’t the severity of the assigned punishment. It was the principle of the thing – on both counts. I insist on respectful obedience from my children and he persists in trying to do things his own way and in his own time, regardless of what I say. So, who’s harder to live with? I dealt with it by laughing. You know, that “Silly boy, it isn’t ME who is being difficult, but your own choices that are creating difficulty for you” laugh; the “You’re the one being stubborn, not me” laugh.
This may be easier to resolve in parent-child relationships since there is a power differential. But what about stalemates like this in adult relationships? Are there times when we are less-than-gracious when we should offer someone the opportunity to express their individuality? Well, of course.
I am not a big fan of campaign season in the political realm. I dislike the negative ads and the boasting ads equally. If there was a party called Humble Integrity, I’d probably join that one. As it stands, there isn’t one remotely close to that. [Ok, I came up with the cool acronym: Humble Integrity Party = HIP!] As a HIP candidate, I would do all my campaigning via Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. Oh wait – maybe that is how I would do it as a member of the DLCP (Don’t Like Crowds Party). . . Let’s face it. I’d never be a suitable candidate for political office.
Not too many of us risk having our lives dissected, chewed up, and spit out in the national forum. Our family has a way, though, of exposing to us the things we either deny or would otherwise like to keep under wraps about ourselves. Marriage is the great revealer of life areas in need of personal growth. Our level of stubbornness is revealed in how we respond to the knowledge that we need to grow enough in an area to demonstrate grace. If we can humbly apologize and seek to let go of our personal agenda (which is often linked to nothing vital), then we become much more pleasant to be around. If we disregard the revelation and dig in our heels to ensure no one “runs over us”, then we might be setting ourselves up for a lot of head-butting.
So, with that in mind, and to avoid running the risk of being known as a head-butt-er (or any variation of such), let us be mindful of the grace that is ours through Jesus. I would rather be known as someone who is hard to live without than hard to live with.