Right to Ruin

In my work I see many broken relationships.  Sometimes severed relationships are a result of being right.

I sat in front of a father who was upset about his son’s decisions to do things of which he disapproved.  Sometimes parents, in these cases, have the right to be upset.

Many times it is their insistence on being right that perpetuates the conflict.  Either way, their desire to be right usually has a consistent outcome: damaging or losing the relationship.

As a result of this trend, I often communicate with hurting family members that they have a choice.  They can be absolutely right and lose their relationship, or they can surrender their right to be right and have the ability to speak into the relationship.

Regrettably, I have seen people choose being right over the hope of keeping the relationship.  It is their right to ruin.  Relinquishing their claim to be right could have made all the difference.

Amazingly they choose to lose their relationship.  Feet are dug in the ground on their hill to die.  Their opponent in the relational stand off firmly digs their feet in the ground for their position.  The war is on.  Relationships are about to suffer.

The father I mentioned fought me on this concept.  He just knew he was right and thought giving up his deeply entrenched position was an ungodly compromise.  It is amazing to see this happen.  In the midst of knowing they might mortally wound a relationship, they often will choose being right and consequently lose any opportunity for change or influence in the child’s life.

Often I make the point that the current method is not working and has only led to strife.  Maybe a different plan should be given a shot.   This father decided to risk it for one week to see what would happen.  He laid down his right to be right.  He came out of his foxhole.  If it were a gun fight he would have laid down his weapon.

Much to his surprise, once he laid down his right to be right, his son did the same. After several visits together, they were respectfully talking together.   They didn’t disregard their difference but are now talking them through.  This pair is even looking for solutions together.

The father is now speaking into the son’s life, not demanding his rightness.  His right to ruin has been transformed into the reward of a restored relationship.

In my own relationships, I have had this challenge come up.   Shamefully I can point to places over the years where I was right and allowed it to ruin a relationship.  Even after discovering it and asking for forgiveness there has still been some raw wounds left behind.  I hope I am in a place in my life where I will surrender my right to be right and instead of ruin choose to restore.

Have you ever observed this phenomenon in relationships?

How have you dealt with seemingly irreconcilable conflict?

Have you ever experienced the blessing of relinquishing your right to be right?

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