When I talk about drama, I am not talking the BBC Period type drama, normally broadcast on a Sunday evening and involving bonnets. When I talk about drama, what I mean is big conflict over small offences. The kind of disagreement that starts small and then spirals out of control, causing multiple arguments, drawn out conflict and bad feeling between good people.
Paul paints a vivid picture of drama in 2 Corinthians 12:20, he says; “I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
I’ve got to a place in my life now where I am fed up with drama. I’ve had enough of it. I don’t want to cause drama, and I don’t want to be swept up in other’s people drama either.
The good news is that God’s word can actually teach us a lot about how to dial down the drama. How can we reduce drama in our lives? How can we lessen the amount of time we spend in conflict with each other? How do we stop ourselves from being railroaded by minor issues? How do we nip disagreement in the bud?
Now dialing down drama, is a bit like trying to live plastic free – it’s a huge challenge! I am not living a completely drama free life, but I have sought out God’s advice on handling drama and by following these key scriptures I have reduced the amount of sleep I lose, energy I waste, friends I hurt and worry spent on drama. So, I thought I should share what the Bible says on this here, in case any one else wants to dial down the drama in their lives.
So, how do we dial down the drama?
- Let it Go – Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
Shrug off things that could be insults, shake off petty annoyances, don’t make a big deal of things that aren’t a big deal.
A key to letting it go is learning the difference between a speck and a plank.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:1: ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
A speck is an irritation and annoyance. You would be happier without specks in your life, for sure, but they are fairly easy to get rid of. A plank is a big deal – if you had a plank in your eye, you would have a serious problem.
The problem is that we often see a speck and then say, “ah, but it could be a plank”. We use phrases like; “I think it is a bigger issue than that”, “I think this is a deeper problem”, or we blurt out mid argument; “It’s not about the party it’s that you have never liked my mother!”
If you make little problems about a much bigger issue every time you have a minor disagreement, you’ll always be neck-deep in drama.
When something happens that makes you feel hurt, cross, offended or annoyed. Try and take a step back to ask; Does this really matter? Do I believe this person truly tried to hurt me? – because most times they didn’t. And even if they did, so what? So what if not everyone likes you? So what if they took a little dig? If they want to be petty, that’s their problem, not yours. Do you know how infuriating it is when you act oblivious to an insult you have been given? Or when you repay pettiness with kindness?
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22
2. Don’t recruit a gang – If your brother sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. Matthew 18:15
Understand that it is never your job to punish one another. Punishment is about trying to hurt people back. The aim in your life shouldn’t be too punish people but to win them over. The aim is to have a friendship that works for both of you. That goal becomes a lot harder to accomplish if ten other people put them in the dog house because you have gone round telling everyone how they have hurt you. So speak with them privately first. Having lots of people on your side doesn’t make you right. This is the second easiest way to reduce drama; keep the players involved to as small a number as you can. It’s simple maths!
3. Stop feeding the fire – Without wood a fire goes out, without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. Proverbs 26:30-21.
Drama is like a fire – it dies out when you stop feeding it. Don’t talk on and on about it; don’t pick over it over lunch, or text about it in to the night. Especially when you are not involved in conflict, you don’t need to know all the gory details and updates. Talking about it endlessly just stirs up the emotions but doesn’t really help it.
If you want to dial down the drama, then one of the best things you can do is shut up about it. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is in the book of Job when Job has had enough of the unhelpful talk of his three comforters, he suddenly exclaims:
If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom –Job 13:5
Or Proverbs 10:19 puts it a bit more gently; Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
Here is the thing; drama is entertaining, it can be fun to hear the latest of what has gone down, but that kind of talk is not helpful. Stop feeding the fire, but when you have to talk, keep Ephesians 4:29 in mind: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
4. Remember your common ground – Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer. 2 Thessalonians 3:15
Most people, even ones that cause you grief haven’t really set out to hurt you. Don’t paint them in your head as the evil mastermind behind your troubles. Most people who rub you up the wrong way don’t even know they are being unreasonable. Jesus said whoever is not against you is for you.
Families may fall out but you are still a family. Your work colleague may annoy you but you’re still part of one team trying to get a job done. Your friends in church might hold different beliefs than you on some areas of Christian living but as long as you both believe in Jesus, you will always have more that unites you than separates you.
Drama magnifies our differences so we need to make a conscious effort to recognise that our common ground is much more important than where we differ.
5. Keep turning up, keep doing good – And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. Hebrews 10:24-25
Sulking exacerbates a conflict – so if there has been an argument, one of the best things you can do is keep calm and carry on. Carry on coming to church, carry on serving, carry on being in relationship with one another, carry on going to work. The first time you’re in a room with someone after a conflict things may be awkward but it will soon pass. Don’t storm off. Don’t give up. Don’t pick up your ball and go home, never to return.
For every argument you have, try and make ten great memories. Outweigh the bad with the good. My friend once told me that when she was little was told off by her dad, and she was upset so she went crying to find her mum to comfort her. But she had forgotten that her mum was out shopping and wasn’t there. When my friend realised her mum was out she went back to her dad for a cuddle. She knew that even though her dad had told her off, that he loved her and was her source of comfort. We need to learn that too – just because we don’t agree all the time, it doesn’t mean we are to stop being friends or a source of comfort and support to one another.
And those are five Biblical ways to dial down the drama in your life. Time is too short and friendships are too precious to squander on drama, drama, drama! We all have our dramaqueen moments, but let’s not let drama be a draining distraction from the much more important and frankly, enjoyable, things in life