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Honesty during conflict

Irened

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I sometimes feel that to be Orthodox, I have to in some ways be dishonest. For example, when I'm in a conversation with a certain friend, we can get into disagreement about certain details from a past conversation, or a memory he has had that I know is incorrect, but he adamantly stated that he is the one that's correct and he gets upset if I challenge this. To resolve it, I sometimes feel like I need to agree with his side of the story to maintain peace, even though I know he is wrong. Or sometimes go along with something I know isn't true because I know the he might blow up if I disagree.

This leaves me feeling like a phoney, and dishonest. And also like I'm enabling someone. I know I could be honest with him and in the end we can just agree to disagree. But that usually leaves hard feelings because a debate about the facts preceded it. With some people, isn't it just better to bow out early and let them believe what they want if that keeps peace?

With strangers that can work, but with friends you have frequent contact with this can leave resentment for me, because then I feel like I constantly have to suck it up and be the better person, and that how I feel doesn't matter (if I was more saint than sinner and had humility, I'm sure I wouldn't care at all). I know that some friendships can be a battle of the egos and my ego is unfortunately alive and well. But in the end, I guess it just makes me feel I can't be real, or myself with someone because I'm so busy trying to be how I think God wants me to be, which in a lot of situations is kind of fuzzy to me. And it makes me feel stifled and like I don't matter.

I wonder if anyone here has felt this way? I know our path to salvation is to deny ourselves. How do we do this in a healthy manner that doesn't lead to bitterness?
 

Ainnir

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Lord, have mercy on your handmaiden.

I can't answer fully right now, but first and foremost, that's not Orthodox. Second, your friend's anger is his struggle, not yours. And finally, it might be worth it to consider whether your friend is a good a friend to you as you are to them. Finally, trust your feelings. God gave us those, too.
 

J Michael

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I don't know if this is the kind of answer or response you're looking for, Irened, but my first thought on reading your post was of Fr. Tom Hopko, of blessed memory. He wrote in his 55 maxims, "Don't try to convince anyone of anything" (#43), and "Don't defend or justify yourself" (#44). Easy for him to say :)! It is great advice (which was mainly meant for his own consumption), but I tend to fail miserably at both. But I keep trying...So...maybe you too can keep trying.

Here's the whole list, from https://stpeterorthodoxchurch.com/55-maxims-for-christian-living/, if you're interested:
  1. Be always with Christ.
  2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
  3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
  4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.
  5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
  6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
  7. Eat good foods in moderation.
  8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.
  9. Spend some time in silence every day.
  10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
  11. Go to liturgical services regularly
  12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
  13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.
  14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
  15. Read the scriptures regularly.
  16. Read good books a little at a time.
  17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  18. Be an ordinary person.
  19. Be polite with everyone.
  20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
  21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  22. Exercise regularly.
  23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.
  24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.
  25. Be faithful in little things.
  26. Do your work, and then forget it.
  27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  28. Face reality.
  29. Be grateful in all things.
  30. Be cheerfull.
  31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  32. Never bring attention to yourself.
  33. Listen when people talk to you.
  34. Be awake and be attentive.
  35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.
  37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
  38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
  39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.
  40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
  42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.
  43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  45. Be defined and bound by God alone.
  46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.
  47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
  48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.
  49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
  50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
  51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
  53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your brokenness.
  54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.
  55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.
 

Irened

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Oh yes @J Michael, I am familiar with Father Thomas' maxims as AFR plays them all the time. Especially the 2 you referenced. It is hard to do! That's what I was getting at in my post. It's the Orthodox thing to do isn't it? I struggle with what it means to deny myself and be a slave to all without it making me bitter!

I actually heard great advice from watching a Joel Osteen (!) talk once. His point in dealing with conflict was, "Do you want to be right or do you want peace?!"

The ego wants to be right. The soul wants peace.
 
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Luke

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If you and your friend decide that you remember a detail differently, can you try saying that you will just have to agree to disagree?
 

Irened

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If you and your friend decide that you remember a detail differently, can you try saying that you will just have to agree to disagree?
Yes. But it comes after we both get frustrated at each other in disagreeing. I can disagree with other friends without the frustration on either side but maybe that's due to underlying resentment this particular friend and I have towards each other. He can be touchy. I get set off by that because I'm under a ton of stress so then I react strongly myself. No friendship is perfect I guess, and some friends you get along with better than others. Maybe it's just a clashing of personalities.
 

J Michael

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I'm guessing you only both get frustrated after a bout of disagreeing with each other. Maybe try nipping it in the bud right at the beginning. If he disagrees about a detail you mention, maybe just say, "Oh, ok" or some such thing and then let it go and move on. If he says some detail you disagree with or remember differently, maybe just say, "Oh, ok, I remember it differently but it really doesn't matter (or...you may very well be right, or...)". Or...you could just nod your head and move on. Just some thoughts....

Take your time answering/responding to him. Watch the knee-jerks. (Wait a minute...who am I talking to here? Oh yeah...me! :))
 

Irened

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@J Michael Your advice would bring a lack of outward conflict but inside it would bother me. I don't want to agree with something I know isn't true. Plus, my ego doesn't like submiting. But, for the sake of peace maybe it's best to just let things be, I just need to pray to find the right words. It's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. These types of things are really just a mirror for me to see what's inside me. Don't the Saints and Fathers state that a passionless person devoid of ego is troubled by nothing anyone says or does?
 

J Michael

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It's not a matter of agreeing with something you know isn't true, rather it's not disagreeing out of a desire for peace. What Joel Osteen, and a host of others said, "Do you want to be right, or do you want peace?" is right on the money. To not disagree, to not argue is not the same as agreeing.

Now...if it's a matter of life and death or potential serious physical or mental injury to another, that's a whole other kettle of fish.
 
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I sometimes feel that to be Orthodox, I have to in some ways be dishonest. For example, when I'm in a conversation with a certain friend, we can get into disagreement about certain details from a past conversation, or a memory he has had that I know is incorrect, but he adamantly stated that he is the one that's correct and he gets upset if I challenge this. To resolve it, I sometimes feel like I need to agree with his side of the story to maintain peace, even though I know he is wrong. Or sometimes go along with something I know isn't true because I know the he might blow up if I disagree.

This leaves me feeling like a phoney, and dishonest. And also like I'm enabling someone. I know I could be honest with him and in the end we can just agree to disagree. But that usually leaves hard feelings because a debate about the facts preceded it. With some people, isn't it just better to bow out early and let them believe what they want if that keeps peace?

With strangers that can work, but with friends you have frequent contact with this can leave resentment for me, because then I feel like I constantly have to suck it up and be the better person, and that how I feel doesn't matter (if I was more saint than sinner and had humility, I'm sure I wouldn't care at all). I know that some friendships can be a battle of the egos and my ego is unfortunately alive and well. But in the end, I guess it just makes me feel I can't be real, or myself with someone because I'm so busy trying to be how I think God wants me to be, which in a lot of situations is kind of fuzzy to me. And it makes me feel stifled and like I don't matter.

I wonder if anyone here has felt this way? I know our path to salvation is to deny ourselves. How do we do this in a healthy manner that doesn't lead to bitterness?
Getting in a fight over a memory is stupid.
 

Ainnir

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I have to return to this. I want to specify what isn't Orthodox. It's not Orthodox to pretend or hide or lie as a means to "in so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone." If we are kind (not nice; kind), honest, and not intentionally combative, then any animosity on the other person's part is not our responsibility. Consider how Christ dealt with the Pharisees. Yes we should make sure we are not behaving this way ourselves, but it is not wrong to recognize when someone else is behaving this way and to lovingly avoid their snare. It's a difficult balance I'm certainly still trying to learn, but it exists. :)
 
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