A teenager in our church youth group shared a conflict that escalated to a physical altercation. Without going into too many details the scenario went like this; the teen’s personal space was invaded, a request was made to correct the situation, the invader replied by hitting the teen, the teen hit them back even harder, and the adults were informed. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the teen’s friend jumped in and took off chasing the invader.
This was a fast developing conflict that seemed to have little opportunity for resolution. It went from words to blows in less than 90 seconds. How does this happen? How can it be resolved? I’m glad you asked. Let me use an illustration.
When I learned to play tennis as a child I tried to win matches by hitting every shot as hard as I could. One day my coach, Mr. Dee, taught me the drop shot. He showed me how hitting the ball hard when close to the net could send the ball sailing out of bounds. He suggested that i not hit the ball with my full strength, but instead, pull my strength away from the ball at the exact moment it touched my racquet. By pulling the racquet gently away from the ball at the point of impact, I was able to slow the ball down. This intentional move caused the ball to drop lifelessly on the other side of the net. If I made the decision ahead of time to use a drop shot, it didn’t matter how hard my opponent hit the ball toward me. I could simply adjust how much to pull back to get the drop shot I wanted.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV)