Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 27, 2009


Year’s end a good time to bring closure to unresolved conflict


          Most of us struggle with unresolved conflict with other persons. Truth be told, some of our disagreements are unsolvable. There are some problems we simply cannot fix. However it is possible to bring closure, at least in our own minds, to some of the conflicts that create inner turmoil. The ending of the year is a good time to mull this over.

          Take anger for example. Sometimes we “permit” minor things to push our anger button. A driver cuts in front of us. A friend’s subtle criticism hurts our feelings.  Some idiot makes us wait forever in line at the super market. Anger is kindled within us. How do we put out this fire that rages within?

          The solution involves using your brain. Back away and think about what is happening. Then admit three things to yourself.  First, anger hurts you, not the person who is the object of your rage. Second, no one can make you angry unless you give that person permission to do so. Third, you can choose to give up your anger and let it go. You can spit it out like a plum seed.

          It is clinically true that anger disrupts the normal functions of the human body’s organs. That being true, why allow your own attitude to injure your liver or your kidneys? Common sense tells me it is stupid to hurt myself with my own thoughts.  

          As this calendar year ends, we have a choice. We can choose to dispose of any lingering anger within us just as we do the garbage – throw it out!  That is what anger is anyway – garbage. And the longer we let it hang around, the worse it stinks.

          Bitterness and resentment are kissing cousins of anger. They are like demons lurking in the darkness, waiting to hurt us. If we allow them lodging in our hearts, they can rob us of our joy and eventually destroy us. No one is immune to these villains. Like the flu, they can attack us and wound us.

          So we need to guard carefully the door of our hearts. If a friend gets a promotion we thought we deserved, we must deal sternly with the resentment that pops up. We can tell ourselves that our turn will come later – or we can embrace the face that it may never come. But we can overcome our resentment by choosing to congratulate our friend for the promotion. It is living out that “Do unto others” thing that Jesus talked about.

          Tension with others sometimes develops when we insist that people live by the standards we have chosen. But our society is highly diverse, and more so every day. So it is necessary to allow others freedom to make a myriad of personal choices, many of which may be different from our own.

          None of us can make choices for others. We must make our own and learn to be comfortable with the “strange” decisions some people make in a free society.  It helps to remember that we are not all alike.

          Some people like chicken; others like fish. Some folks like country music; others like opera. We can make ourselves miserable if we constantly insist that everybody eat chicken and like country music.

           People are different. The art is to learn to enjoy our own personal uniqueness rather than focus on the weirdness of others. When we do, we find our stomachs will digest either chicken or fish without the need for Tums or Alka- Seltzer.

          Hairstyles pose a dilemma for some people. Parents can become embroiled with their teen-agers about the length of hair. Some young people challenge the authority of their parents by demanding the freedom to make their own decisions about issues like music and hair style. To survive, parents have to learn to give and take rather than trying to exercise total control of a teenager’s behavior.  

          This brings up an important principle for life. There are some ditches not worth dying in.  Both sanity and peace are soon lost if we choose to fight about every issue that comes up. We must, then, learn to choose wisely those ditches we are willing to die in. Obviously the length of a person’s hair is not worth a fight. We can save our energy for moral issues that demand a fight to the finish.  

          An automobile runs better if the radiator is flushed now and then. The human mind can benefit from a good flushing too. There are attitudes, ideas, and dispositions that, like rust, can be detrimental to our mental health. So flush them out.

If we are willing we can bring closure to some of the conflicts that keep our stomachs tied in knots.  How? Well, stop insisting on having your way about everything. Embrace the fact that you are not always right. Stop trying to change other people. Forgive people you are holding a grudge against.  Give people the freedom to disagree with your opinions. Choose to enjoy yourself – and be thankful for the people who genuinely like you. Such choices can give you a jump-start on making 2010 a happy New Year! + + +