The June meeting of the Presbytery of Glasgow at which our Mission Plan was
FINALLY approved was not without some tense moments. Feeling and emotions
were high and tension was palpable at times. I was conscious that whilst it is wise
to cool down excitement and speak your mind, that is not always easy to do. That
reminded me of something I once read, “When people submerge their true feelings
in order to preserve harmony, they undermine integrity of a relationship. They buy
peace on the surface, but underneath there are hurt feelings, troubling questions,
and hidden hostilities just waiting to erupt. It’s a costly price to pay for a cheap
peace, and it inevitably leads to inauthentic relationships… No one says anything
‘unsafe’. They never discuss misunderstandings, reveal hurt feelings, air
frustrations or ask difficult questions… Offences occur, but nobody talks about
them. Doubts about the other’s integrity creep in, but they’re never dealt with. In
time such relationships deteriorate.” Denying our true feelings is not advisable,
but calmness can achieve reconciliation more easily than raised voices or
Cuthbert (the Bishop of Lindisfarne in the 7th century ) had difficulty in teaching
the Rules of Christian community life to some of the Christian community there. At
meetings he was often worn down by bitter insults, but would put an end to the
arguments simply by rising and walking out, calm and unruffled. Next day he would
give the same admonitions, as though there had been no unpleasantness the
previous day. In this way he won the love and obedience of the community.
How do you respond when someone says something uncomfortable to you? Do you
overcome your natural human instinct to reject it? Do you listen and seek the
truth in the other person’s concerns? Or do you get angry? Do you slip into denial,
retaliation or rationalisation?
Well, do you?