Restoring a relationship

Most experts say that entrenched conflict is never solved by proving the correctness of an argument but is instead achieved by restoring a relationship. How much does “being right” matter versus moving toward a compromise, or reaching an adjusted outcome that promotes wound closure rather than amputation?

In terms of managing expectations, I love what my friend Julie always said when she invited folks to dinner. Because she had a large family of young children, guests invariably asked what they could bring to help with the meal.  “Low expectations,” Julie would reply, putting everyone at ease. Remember how the neutrophils expect their attack to destroy the wound problem, but they only make things worse when they continue fighting after they’re no longer needed? In our chronic conflicts, we often deploy a similar weapon – wrong, rigid expectations. When we set those aside to identify what can actually be changed in the situation, we take a positive step toward healing. Sometimes all we have control over is our own assumptions. My expectations for myself are just as often a problem as the external issues are.  One of my daughters painted a sign for me that now hangs in my office: “There is no way to be a perfect mom, but a million ways to be a good one.” Amen! Lowering expectations doesn’t mean lowering standards; it simply means allowing one another grace to heal and grow in the reality of our circumstances. 

From “Designed to Heal: What the Body Shows Us About Healing Wounds, Repairing Relationships, and Restoring Community” by Jennie A. McLaurin and Cymbeline Tancongco Culiat