The Joy of a Good Argument

Not a week goes by when Jackie and I don’t have a serious argument…. and I am so thankful for this because our arguments grow our understanding and character. The root of our arguments is often that we see the world from different perspectives.  As we argue, we learn more about each oyjers life experiences, cultural background, and personality. I am learning how ego-centric my perspective is, and sometimes learn that what I think is true is merely an opinion, or worse, plain wrong. Together we are learning what is truth and good.

Sometimes I discover an apparent disagreement isn’t a disagreement. Rather, we are talking about the issue from a different perspective. In these cases I learn that I am being too sensitive and/or too narrow in how I think and talk. Sometimes I am jumping to conclusions and misjudging what Jackie is saying. Sometimes the argument reveals how one of us (or sometimes both of us) are wrong. We find that our biases or fears were making it difficult to see the truth. Often we find a viewpoint we can agree on. Sometimes we agree to disagree. In these cases we have struggled through the issue enough to recognize and respect each others perspective, but have not been persuaded to adopt the other’s perspective.

Myers-Briggs classifies me as a “J”, while  Jackie is a “P”.  I like plans, closure, and certainty. Jackie likes freedom, experience, and possibilities. There are strengths and weaknesses to each of our approaches. By working together we help each other have a richer and more balanced life experience.

Jackie Helps me Let Go of the Illusion of Control

I want a safe life which I control. I know that this is an illusion, that there are many things outside my control, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to keep life safe and controlled.

Jackie pulls me out of my safe comfort zone. She is always after me to try new things even when the outcome is uncertain or could be embarrassing. Jackie encourages me to take risks. This is not something that comes to me naturally. I don’t like failing or doing this poorly. I don’t want to look silly or foolish.  While this is “safe”, it often means there are great opportunities that I would miss with my risk adverse approach. G. K. Chesterton wisely noted that “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Jackie reminds me to live in the present and trust God’s provision. She tells me to not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34).

Finally, Jackie reminds me that no matter how carefully I plan for the future, I have little control over what will ultimately happen. That planning 5-10 years in the future is great hubris and typically a waste of time, just as  James 4:13-16 says Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

I Help Jackie Hold Course

Jackie is much more impacted by her emotions and immediate circumstances than I am. If things get uncomfortable, or seem not to be working well, she is very quick to change direction. If a new opportunity comes up, she sometimes forgets promises or commitments that were made earlier.

I help keep Jackie anchored and moving forward when things get difficult.  I remind her that just because things are getting uncomfortable doesn’t means she is going the wrong direction. I help Jackie practice what Ignatian exercises refers to as the discernment of spirits,  When it’s “dark”,  be patient, don’t change directions, keep going the same way until there is enough light to adjust direction.

My role is often to help Jackie not feel overwhelmed by her emotions, but to hold firm to what she knows.  As Eph 4:11-16 states: And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Additional Thoughts

TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan entitled Dare to Disagree.

Iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

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