Wasteland Kings

This series of articles on sarcasm started when a friend of mine pointed out that some of my sarcastic comments towards other people were kind of cutting. He and I both knew that most of my sarcasm was playful and that’s why he needed to take the time to point that out. Previously, I had justified my cutting comments with the fact that I just making a joke and that my friends knew that I didn’t mean what I said. For the most part, I make these comments because I lack the courage to confront conflict or tension head on. I don’t muster up enough courage to calmly express that they have hurt me in the past or present. This is one of the hardest practices in the world and it is absolutely vital in almost every relationship. This does not mean we should start using guilt or raised voices to express ourselves to those close to us. It does mean that we need to speak the truth in love. That means breaking everything down to the simple  “when you did or said this, it hurt me because _______”. At times I would prefer running into a European soccer riot than saying those words. This simple phrase requires a ridiculous amount of courage because it involves facing the possibility of a powerful rejection. It also produces some of the best fruit in relationships. I know that historically I am very bad at real conflict resolution. I am good at anticipating conflict and fixing the problem before it becomes too big of a deal, but that’s more conflict prevention and not actually conflict resolution. Most of my past conflicts have been marked by me getting really emotional and dramatic. I don’t always express those emotions, but they are there right under the surface. I retreat and stew on things and then get more and more upset at the person as I build one argument after the other that all point to how they were wrong. So far, this approach has surprisingly never resolved one of my conflicts. Basically, my approach many times is to bury my feelings or the fact that I’m upset. These buried feelings don’t stay that way forever though. They inevitably come out in one way or the other and my favorite outlet for them is sarcasm. I’m not always sarcastic about the same topic or subject that caused my hurt feelings; I just need an opportunity to take a jab at the other person. Sarcasm allows me to take this jab without being completely open about my feelings. This guarded approach allows me to express myself without risking a conflict. A few years back I got to a point where one of my friends and I were jabbing each other quite often and some other friends pointed out that I had to bring my hurt feelings to the surface or they would just get worse. So I sat down and just said that short little phrase “when you did this, it hurt me because­­­_________” and filled in the specifics. It was really awkward. I don’t mean that it was awkward at first. The whole process was awkward and it was still awkward the second and third time that I went through it with that friend. I kept doing it though because it brought an incredible amount of peace and growth to our relationship. We’re great friends now and I don’t regret a single one of those conversations. We didn’t need those talks because he’s a particularity frustrating or annoying friend either. I’ve had that talk with multiple friends and it has always brought awesome growth to the relationship. It doesn’t mean that growth will always happen. Taking that risk is well worth it though. A friendship that replaces conflict with cutting sarcastic remarks is not a fun or rewarding relationship. I know from my personal experience that it’s really scary to think about losing or hurting a friendship. I often deal with the fear that if one or two of my friends rejected me then no one would love me. While this fear doesn’t stand up against reason and rationale, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. That said, feeding this fear by keeping up relationships devoid of conflict and filled with sarcasm will never beat that fear. The only way to break its power over your heart is to face the possibility of rejection. A pretty easy way to face this rejection comes from openly dealing with conflict in a simple and calm way. The simple conflict phrase of ‘when you say or do______, it hurts me because______’ causes us come to face to face with the possibility of rejection because we must allow the other person to choose between caring about hurting us or not. That is almost too scary for words to describe. That goes completely against our tendency towards a guarded nature. In reality, that tendency towards being guarded is one of the things that we need to fight against the most. That tendency keeps us from experiencing the real unconditional love of Jesus that other Christians can reflect to us. If we want fruitful and rewarding relationships, we’ve got to drop our guard and open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection. We must open ourselves to the possibility of genuine rejection in order to get genuine and unconditional love. I can’t guarantee that you’ll be loved every time you let your guard down. I can guarantee that the only relationships worth having are the ones that stand on a foundation of genuinely and consistently expressed unconditional love that’s been tested in the fire of conflict.   Image Copyright: Jakob Sigurðsson 

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How I Destroy My Heart
How I Got Here

Matthew Rial