Love has many facets, as the Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians explains. One of the most important ones is patience. The old English translation of patience is long-suffering. It is not easy to listen to someone who is angry, resentful, or hurt. To do so requires a great deal of patience or suffering. We have to be disciplined enough not to be provoked and at the same time, not be quick to react in defensive behavior. Our usual reaction is to fight back if we feel attacked, which only escalates the conflict. We are talking about the ability to withstand frustration with the point of listening to someone who is just as flawed and messed up as we are. Long-suffering or forbearance invites God into the situation, and it lessens the resentment or anger.
Solomon said, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” (Eccl 7:9). Only a fool is defensive; he will not hear the matter out. Only a fool will respond with accusations before really listening to the other person. When there is a deficit of patience and long-suffering, there will be an abundance of unresolved conflict. Solomon also said, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride” (Eccl 7:8). Resolving a matter is better than quitting in the middle with both people extremely upset. We will all experience conflict, but we do not all know how to resolve it.
Exposure to unresolved conflict in hinders a child’s normal growth patterns and increases their defensiveness. Unfortunately, children are growing up in homes where they witness unresolved conflict between their parents regularly. They internalize this chaos or act it out. Many of them experience social anxiety and even depression or anger and as a result they live with confusion.
We see mass shootings, and we wonder what is causing this. The answer lies in the confusion that exists in the child and adolescents. This confusion has serious implications when they are adults. Many children are living in a chaos of unresolved conflict because their parents are living that way. They learn the same negative patterns of communication and possess the same inability to listen and resolve their disputes with others.
Deescalating an argument and later resolving the differences that initiated the disagreement are learned skills. These skills do not come easily, especially if the model we grew up with was one of unresolved conflict. What helps us is to learn to ask ourselves, “What can I do to resolve this?” We need to listen and hear what our husband or wife is really saying. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes. We need to apologize and ask for forgiveness. We need to keep working on our attitudes.
There has been and continues to be way too much permissive parenting where kids are raising themselves. There is little modeling of emotional control and teaching of right and wrong. Kids are growing up without a sense of morality and little patience with others. They have not been taught and have no idea how to listen to another person and try to resolve their differences. This is one of the reasons we are seeing so many problems in our culture today.