I’m part of a little Bible Study that meets downtown. And this past week’s study was the finishing up of a study called The Gospel-Centered Life. The subject was conflict. To be honest, I was already in a crappy mood. There was no way this was going to help.
The basic gist of the study was our need to deal with conflict in a way that protects the integrity of the gospel and demonstrates the gospel’s power to heal broken relationships. And there are two ways people deal with conflict wrongly. These two ways are demonstrated by two different types of people: attackers and withdrawers. We either attack people to make ourselves feel better by wining arguments or we withdraw so we do not have to deal with the messiness of conflict resolution.
As our teacher read the descriptions of these two people who deal with conflict in a way that is out of step with the gospel, I became a little uncomfortable. But I knew. I knew the material had me pegged. My day just got worse. Even in the midst of my blackguard heart being exposed in a room full of young people half my age, I wanted to defend myself and make myself look good in front of everyone with a stellar argument detailing why this discussion was not worth our time. Stupid study.
“Hello, my name is Matt and I am an attacker.”
It took about 2.3 seconds for me to find myself in this description. I did not want to be this person. But I saw myself clearly. I could feel that deep down soul anxiety that all attackers feel and must deal with by attacking. And I knew it for what it was: insecurity.
My brother Jeff once called me insecure long before I had a clue what the word meant. He was a college student at the time, so he knew everything. But he was right. I was. I am. I attack people and ideas because it gives me the sense of being right and therefore provides with a rightness/righteousness before God and people. Mainly people. When all the time I have the righteousness of Christ credited to me and I am accepted and beloved. When I forget this or ignore it as is often the case, I make moves in order to establish some kind of alternate righteousness. I have mad attack-mode skills.
Afterwards we always trek over to Buffalo Wild Wings. We were sitting around and before I had the first bite of those glorious bites of culinary genius, I had gone into attack mode three times. As I drove home, I thought,
“I need to just shut up, eat my Mango Habanero Wings and be quiet.”
“No, that’s just withdrawing! Don’t do that.”
“Crap, how am I even a pastor?”
Talking to yourself is weird enough. But when it’s attacker Matt versus withdrawer Matt, it can get ugly.
But I knew what I needed. I needed security in something outside of myself. I needed…need the security of what God has done for me in Christ so I won’t feel the need to attack and I need the security of what God has done for me in Christ after I have attacked.
So, all in all it was a crappy day. But one for which I’m thankful.