Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Walmart Test

Have you ever walked down the aisles of Walmart (or any public place) and spotted someone you'd like to avoid?   Maybe that person is someone you don't get along with, or worse, someone who has treated you badly.  When confronted with this scenario what are you likely to do?

Do you-
A) Pretend that you don't see them and walk down another aisle.
B) Quickly jump into a clothes rack.
C) If you are with your kids, pinch one of them hard, causing them to cry really loud and you to turn into the consoling parent - assuring no conversation with anyone will happen.
D) Use your room clearing fart reflex.
E) Pleasantly say hello, and then under your breath curse the person and their family - "Oh I'm sorry, no I said, I hope you and your family go do well, not to hell!  Silly you!" 
F) Do you greet this person with a genuine smile and a sincere "How are you?  It's good to see you!"
The above is what I call "The Walmart Test" Its a test to see what your relationship with others is like.
Unfortunately I have probably used answer A far too much in my life.

Not too long ago I had a conflict with a person.  I don't like conflict, but this one blew up in my face.  A casual conversation went from pleasant to ugly in about 2.3 seconds.  I left the room with steam coming out of my ears, and could not shake the anger off for a couple of days.  If I ran into this person at Walmart, I'd be using answer A with him.

Funny thing is, two weeks before that incident, the pastor at our church (Mike Golay - he's pretty much awesome) gave a great sermon about being a Peacemaker.  He talked about the relationships that we have with others and if there is conflict with someone else you will not have peace until it is resolved.

So what do you do?

Take action, humble yourself, and apologize.   

Even if you are 95% right, be the bigger person and apologize.  I knew what I had to do.
It took me two weeks to get up the courage to face this person and apologize even though I felt I was 99% right.  My mind played out every scenario that could happen, and I must admit, I feared that it might not go well. 

But I did it anyway. 

Here's how it all went down.
I went into a room where I knew he would be and the first words that came out of my mouth were, "I'm here to apologize, I didn't do what I was supposed to do." And the very next thing he said was, "Oh you have nothing to apologize for, everything has turned out fine, you know next time I should probably be on the ball a little earlier".  We smiled, shook hands and went back to our work.  No more conflict in our interactions.

It was a thing of beauty!  And boy did I feel better after that conversation.

I realize that this conversation could have gone awry.  Does every peacemaking conversation turn out okay?  I can't guarantee that.  Some relationships may never heal.  But I can tell you this, it's worth a try.  Especially if the conflict is with a loved one. 

Thanks for reading!  We'll see you at Walmart!

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