If you came over from Encouragement for Today, I’m so glad you are here.
In today’s devo, Vulnerable Strength, I shared one of my not-so-fine moments with a friend. Sometimes, when conflict takes place we might want to take a stand.
We want to be strong.
But like me, your strength might actually be aggression.
Aggression is a far cry from the wisdom found in these words:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Perhaps the first step we can take to love each other, especially in conflict, is to understand the difference between aggression and vulnerable strength.
Aggression is an intent to prove you are right… at all costs, while vulnerable strength is seeing the bigger picture.
- What is the other person feeling?
- What caused this?
- What will be most important once the dust settles?
Aggression is setting boundaries to punish, while vulnerable strength is setting boundaries, if needed, that are intended to work toward the best relationship possible.
- What boundaries need to be set?
- Are they mutual (for example, if you require honesty or respect, you give it)?
Aggression is lashing out in emotion, while vulnerable strength is pausing to let your brain catch up with your emotions before responding.
- Do you need to take a breath?
- Do you both need to walk away, and come back to this later?
- Are you weighing the words before they come out of your mouth?
Aggression is making them pay with silence or veiled statements, while pretending everything is okay, while vulnerable strength is working toward honest resolution, as much as it is possible.
- Are you pretending to take the higher road, but your motivation is to punish?
- Is your silence healthy (it can be) or is it a wall?
Aggression is putting a person in their place, while vulnerable strength is seeing the person standing in front of you and weighing that in the equation.
- Do you want to make them feel as bad as you?
- Have you reached beyond the emotion to see the person standing in front of you?
Have you ever confused aggression with strength?
Has it led you down a road you never intended to go?
How might vulnerable strength make a difference next time?
It might not fix the person (not our job) or even make a conflict end in happily ever after (wouldn’t that be nice?), but it will help you in those harder parts of a relationship. It also is a growth opportunity. Maybe the person isn’t ready to change, or sees it a different way, but you are opening the door for God to speak into your own heart, regardless of whether anyone else is ready to change or not.
If you struggle with forgiving, The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness is a powerful, gentle tool to help you peel away layers to find healing. It’s filled with practical and spiritual help to discover how to live free from resentment, unresolved anger, and the burden of unforgiveness.
Another resource is The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, available for preorder now.
Vulnerable Strength Printable -Click her for the printable of the jpg above. Keep it in your Bible or on your bathroom mirror as a reminder of how to discern whether it is aggression or vulnerable strength.
I truly appreciate your devotional thoughts and teaching. I have been saved for 38 years and actively serving The Lord, growing and yet many times even though I may know the answer in my head, my heart forgets it. The Holy Spirit used you today to remind me of how I should respond to that one very unloveable person in my blended family. Thank you.
Because of His Grace,
This is just what I needed today. Help for the moment when I feel there is nothing I can do to positively affect the relationship I am struggling with, I see that I can. So thank you so much. I love the sailboat pic and downloaded it for my desktop!
Blessings to you,
Ps I just noticed there is a typo in the pic- respond
I am here because of “Encouragement for today”, and this is truly encouraging–and convicting–because it’s an issue I am working on. I have successfully trained myself not to be passive, but fear that I have gone too far and have become aggressive. So now my prayer is for God to change MY heart as I work with others who ask me for advice on not being passive. I don’t want to give the impression that “I” know best!!
Thank you for addressing this issue today. Your points are so poignant. Coming from a place of injury we can respond without love or compassion. Thank you for reminding us to wait for the Lord to speak to us and remember to do what he asks of us…to love in spite of…to love even when we don’t get love in return… to love those who challenge us the most! I am so grateful today for this word. God Bless you and yours in the New Year..and to all who visit here…Lisa
I came over to this sight today from “Encouragement for Today”! This spoke to me in a way that I needed so much! I’ve never even replied to a blog, so that tells you just how much I was truly touched today. My struggles continue to be aggression, which I certainly confused with “strength”. In my mind, I thought my silence was taking “the higher road” but sometimes it wasn’t always a forgiving heart. I can see where that leads me to the building of walls and shutting people out! To know me, you wouldn’t know that because, it’s a silent aggression! I’ve learned do much today and have seen such a reflection of myself and really had a “aha” moment!
I’m so grateful for this article today! Thank you!
Suzie, thank you for this beautiful message and printable to remind me to respond in love. The Lord is placing teaching on love before me everywhere I turn. I’ve been praying for Him to show me how to better love others, and your message and printable are certainly a part of His answer.
Thank you Suzanne for your post this morning. It was exactly what I needed to hear. God used it to convict me of the intent of my actions. I pray the Holy Spirit will help me to live and act in vunerable strength rather than agression.
May God Bless you for this teaching and visuals.
This is a great post, full of so many ideas that I can reflect on and hopefully bring to mind often during the day. I have been exercising vulnerable strength in this process of leaving my husband. I have truly tried to see it from his perspective, and the pride that he brings to the situation, which makes this very difficult for him. I have trusted God, reached out to Godly women, prayed, and let things go that I once would have struggled to hang on to. I am pleased to say that demonstrating vulnerable strength is working. I am so grateful to you for helping me on this journey.