“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Mat 5:23-24 (MSG)
Continuing from the last two weeks’ eprayers. We are looking at four bad habits that need to STOP to allow a relationship to flourish. Each habit is represented by a letter of the word ‘STOP’. The first bad habit, represented by the ‘S’ is Striking Back. The ‘T’ – Thinking the worst. Now we are on the ‘O’ – Opting out.
Opting out is where you want to avoid conflict, but the other person thinks you are blanking them out because you don’t care — it can lead to a total breakdown of communication. We can do this in many ways, some just avoid difficult conversations others dodge them with humour or simply change the subject. Either way – the message that we send is “I’m not prepared to discuss this because you are not sufficiently important to me”. This is not an act of love, it throttles our ability to resolve disagreements, we’ll rarely be able to talk deeply and end up with an unsatisfying and shallow relationship. This is not how God means us to be.
The antidote to this is to replace fear with loving boldness and confidence in the knowledge that you are doing what God wants, and to be prepared to listen and work to resolve any disagreements that you have. It helps me if I remember that the other person is not out to get me.
How does ‘opting out’ effect your relationship?
Are there any particular subjects that lead you to ‘opt out’?
Dear Lord, Thank you for your Word and the Holy Spirit. Please help us to build a deep meaningful relationship based on love, not fear. Help me to listen carefully when …. (partner’s name) is upset. Help me to listen well and to try to understand what is is like to be in his or her position. Help me to be a conflict resolver not a conflict avoider. Help us to build a relationship that reflects you. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer (for others)
Dear Lord, We lift up …. and …. to you. Help them we pray, to resolve their disagreements well, in a way that pleases you. Help them to listen carefully to one another to understand each other’s position. Help hem to build a deep and meaningful relationship that pleases and reflects you. Amen
The STOP signs were developed by Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation. There’s a useful article on them here.