One of my favorite movies is Princess Bride. There are so many quotable lines that once I get started, it’s sometime difficult to stop. A scene that comes to mind is when the guards have tripled in front of the gate to keep Wesley and his men from stopping the wedding (more awesome lines there of course).
As their enemy is approaching, the group leader is saying “stand your ground men, stand your ground”. Of course the monologue from Fezzik (while on fire no less) terrifies them to running away. Once Fezzik has scared 29 of the men away, only the main guard (with the gate key) is left. When he denies having the key, Indigo says “Fezzik, tear his arms off”… the guard quickly responds, “Oh, you mean this gate key?”
In this case, the guard had to evaluate the reason to stand his ground versus the reason to cooperate… in his case, the reason to cooperate (still have his arms) outweighed the reason to stand his ground (protect the king’s wedding).
While the confrontations we face in our lives will never quite equate to this same scenario, it’s a nice reminder to think about why we are in the confrontation in the first place.
We live in a very divided nation right now. We can draw lines of battle across political parties, genders, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. The list goes on. It seems that we have hit a point where there is more reason to fight and stand our ground than there is to work together. In the middle of the battle, we can forget WHY we’re fighting in the first place. What is our goal? To prove we are right? To win an argument? To persuade other people to our point? Or should it be to build or maintain relationships ?
We often take our arguments to a point where we are more interested in proving our selves, passing blame on others as a way to say we are not in the wrong at all. The very first “conflict” ever recorded is found in Genesis 3.
The conflict did not actually start with the serpent, that was just the temptation and deception. The real conflict came when they heard God coming and they hid. God rhetorically says “Where are you?” (v 9) and they admit fearing and hiding.
God questions why they felt the need to hide. Why was being naked suddenly an issue? Did they eat of the one tree they were told not to? Adams response is unfortunately how we typically respond. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (v 12). The best response would have been to say, “I’m sorry Lord. The serpent convinced us to doubt you and to sin. I allowed Eve to sin and then even sinned myself. Please forgive me for my failure”
Adam’s real response actually casts blame on everyone BUT himself. In once sentence he blames the woman and even blames God for giving him that woman. But he never blamed the real enemy, the serpent.
Adam chose to “stand his ground” without any consideration as to the relationships that would be harmed in the process. His only focus was to cast blame on others and keep himself in the right. As a result, a life long rift in the relationship between man and God was formed. And that relationship is not healed until Jesus pays the price for that sin. (but that’s another blog)
When you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, pause long enough to consider the real goal. Is proving yourself right more important that the relationship? Could you perhaps better the relationship by finding a way to take some of the blame yourself? How you respond in that moment will show what you value more… being right, or protecting that relationship.