As men, we are programmed to try to fix things. Usually that is a very helpful thing. If something stops working on the car, then we try to diagnose the problem and fix it. If the drain is slow or clogged, then we try to fix it. If a big roach is crawling across the floor and our wife and kids scream for help, then we come in and grab our wife’s shoe to go “out” it. This works pretty good for the “man” things that we do on a regular basis.
Where we sometimes have problems is when it comes to actually communicating with someone and we try to fix it. When we are around guys, we tend to offer enough “personal experience” fixing something until the other guy understands how to fix the problem and then they want us to get out of the way and let them take care of the problem. If there is a life issue you are dealing with that you bring to a guy friend or a group of guys, usually they can relate to the struggles that you are going through and will offer assistance or support. I might add that they are usually willing to give you only as much advice as you seem interested in hearing.
When it comes to dealing with “emotion” problems that our wife brings to us, the rules change a little bit. We still try to solve the problem and usually she just needs to know we care. Chances are that your wife only needed to express her concerns, issues, or struggles with you to help her process the emotions. As men, we sometimes get in the way and try to come up with the quick solutions to these things when she just really needs to know that we support her.
While all of that is good information, the thing I want to talk about today is when a man is put into a defensive position by his wife, family, boss, friend, or foe. His inclination is still to try to fix the problem. The problem is that he may become angered or agitated by being put into a defensive position. His mind may not think clearly through what his actions may be. So in his mind, it is easy for him to justify taking the position of “I am going to show them!” Again, he wants to fix things. He wants to make things right. So, he justifies a plan that making things right is acceptable through an “eye for an eye” approach of gaining revenge. He wants them to feel the same pain he felt or he feels his family felt. He is going to show them. He is going to prove his manhood. Now, I want to point out that there are times when a man needs to defend his family like if they are being threatened or in immediate danger.
In my kids’ schools they talk about Habits of the Mind and one of the one’s that they use is, “Manage your impulsivities.” A man’s impulsivities can get him in a heap of trouble really fast. A man needs to be able to count the cost of his actions at all times. He needs to be able to think through and figure out if his brash reaction for justice is worth the damage that it may cost him in the long run. What seemed like fixing the problem at the moment may very well be an abuse charge, a lost job, or a bill for damages. Those are hopefully extreme, but your actions can affect the trust your wife has in you, can affect your reputation, and have others question your decision making abilities.
So, why is it so hard to turn the other cheek? Why do we need to prove to someone that we are right? Why do we feel that if we can do something that will make the other person feel as bad as or worse than we feel would be a good solution? Our pride tells us we need to get even. Our pride equates that if we feel pain, then the other person needs to feel pain. Our pride is destructive. Our pride leads us to sin. Our sin leads us to death.
While I am thinking about it, another thing we do that is just is bad is we are more than happy to take a bandwagon mentality to something. We either go around gathering a bandwagon of support for our cause by putting down the individual to everyone we come in contact with or asking for help from them to help us get our revenge. We can also be just as guilty of jumping on somebody else’s bandwagon of retribution without knowing the facts or the circumstances.
So, how do we keep from falling into the trap of “I am going to show them?”
First, we have to regain our composure. There are not a lot of good decisions made when you have lost your composure. Reaction-based decisions are usually going to lead us to trouble.
Second, we need to regain control. Control is when we have the ability to manage our actions in a responsible fashion. Control is going to give us the opportunity to at least think about what the consequences could be from our actions.
Third, we need to ask ourselves if what we are thinking about doing is going to solve anything or only escalate the problem further. Many times it easy to fall into a trap of thinking that you must not only get somebody back, but one up them in the process.
Hopefully, at some point in the thought process, the idea that at some point somebody needs to offer peace in the situation comes to mind. I try to reiterate this a lot on this blog, but at some point it is okay to lose. It is okay for you to die to self. It could very well be the best solution to the issue you are dealing with. If you haven’t “shown them” some payback is that really a bad thing? Is it possible that by pulling back the army that you may actually win the war? Have you ever had anyone come to you after having an issue with them and say “When you got me back for that, I really felt better about the situation.” Or, “The way you got me back made me feel so much better about your character and leadership abilities.” Probably not.
Now for the tough part, can you forgive them? I can tell that you are saying that you were just talking about how we are going to get back at this person and now you want me to forgive them. Let me tell you why this is an important step. Right in the Lord’s Prayer there is a verse that says that we should forgive those that trespass against us. I could stop right there and that would be enough, but the last part of the verse says that we must do this for God to forgive us of our sins. When you put it that way, that should change your mind set. Maybe the issue is not so important that I need to forego the forgiveness of my sins. What is going to be more important in the long run? Do I really need to show them? You always hear that “Pride comes before the fall.” This isn’t going to be easy and you are going to fall down not just sometimes but often. Let’s work on controlling our desire to get even and our desire to show them. In the scheme of God’s plan, it is only going to lead us to trouble.