“A few years ago, I left the house to go meet my kindergartner for lunch at his new school. Even though my town is quite rural, brilliant minds had been able to see the future expansion of nearby, by 60 miles, Dallas, TX, so, our nearest highway intersection was undergoing a pretty hefty facelift. To say there was a vast amount of congestion would be underselling it. I was the first vehicle in a long line of traffic to not make it through, winning me the first spot in line.
I’m usually rolling in somewhere at least five minutes late, so this was not looking good for my lunch date with my brand-new school student. No excuse was going to make a hill of beans to him, not even if Ed Sheeran had casually walked up to my car to perform a private concert, it inevitably was going to end in crocodile tears and disappointment from my boy. As my youngest and my baby, I had not let him down too terribly much by this point, and I was trying to hold on to the gold.
As I sat in my vehicle, dismayed, watching the opposite lane of traffic flow past me for upward of twenty minutes, the other construction worker decided to take a phone break while his side was on go. My dwindling patience wanted to jump ship the other way with them. Since he had sent such a great many number of cars through, there wasn’t anywhere for them to go since we were at an intersection and several cars were trying to turn. Thinking there may be a gridlock, I began pulling my vehicle forward in order to remedy the situation, and angrily dig both construction workers out of the large hole they had dug themselves. As I did so, our guy came running at my truck yelling for me to stop. The nerve.
I proceeded to roll down my window and loudly explain, with as few curse words as possible, that I was in fact, not going anywhere but trying to help out the problem, instead. He said some things. I said some things. I said some other things. Everything was pretty tense. I finally screamed, ‘What am I supposed to tell my 5-year-old? What am I supposed to tell him?’ To which he replied, ‘You tell him, you tell him….’
At this point, I’m removing my earrings, as we live in Texas, and I was daring him to suggest I tell my son his mom is mentally unstable. The anger of the space had hit an all-time high. But as he went to finish his sentence, what came out of his mouth instead would change my entire life. ‘You tell him, you tell him, that…. we are stupid. We are just stupid!’ he humbly expressed.
If the anger were a candle, he blew it out on the side of that highway. The tension took but a moment to disappear, as both sides of the equation immediately left the building. Before I could even process what was happening, my heart had already placed the construction worker on its lap and was stroking his hair. I bound forward into full verbal encouragement assault, less this man believe he was stupid. ‘No, you’re not!” I said immediately.
My sister has always taught me, ‘When you get in an argument with someone, drop the rope. Then, there’s nothing left for them to pull on.’ In this case, it wasn’t even me who dropped it: how embarrassing! We switched our hats, chose love this time, and began trying to steal blame from one another. We filled the space we had drained just moments before with anger with light on this second shot.
As I drove away with tears in my eyes, I felt moved to pull over and document my experience with my phone. I flippantly tossed the video onto my social media and was absolutely astonished by the response I received. A record of the construction worker’s humility that spurred mine, in four minutes of insight that would lead us down a completely different path than the one we were traveling.
Drop the Rope. An idea that would further launch our marriage, relationships, and blended family into grace and humility, ultimately causing it to grab another gear and do what we were pleading for it to do: thrive. Conversational tugs-of-war ensue quickly, and quite often, in our interactions with our children, friends, family members, coworkers, and spouses. More times than not, it’s over something seriously insignificant and leads to a heated exchange that threatens to burn both parties to the ground before you even realize something is on fire.
Martin Luther King once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ We would be misled in believing we can fight someone into seeing things our way, especially if they are so occupied by pulling hard on a rope that they can’t even hear what is being said.
Next time you find yourself in the deep of your next tug-of-war, I challenge you to open your grip and release your end. It’s not going to be easy at first, the right steps usually aren’t, but you were made for hard things, and it’s only going to take doing it once for you to believe the words I say. Maybe God will reward you with the other person flying backward onto their tail as you release. Maybe He won’t. We’ll just have to see. Either way, come find us and let us know exactly how you dropped the rope this week, and the great things that occurred right away, or the awful things that did not, rather!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Norman. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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