Most of us live on the ragged edge. The pandemic has narrowed the parameters of our daily grind and given us newness in the nervous twitch department. The lesson for most of us is that our circumstances aren't really the reasons for gnawed finger-nails, the cold sweats, fitful sleep, or drinking on the job. It's our responses to the world around us. I mean, most of us are as zoned out in isolation as we were when moving at the speed of light. And, guess what? Contentious people are primed for us whether we're in slo-mo, running at the speed of light, on the crowded freeway, or lounging in the hammock. Their homing systems are fine-tuned to our vibes.
The people in the psychology department advise us to avoid them. That's one sure fire way to move beyond their range. Keep your distance from them. You know, out of sight, out of mind. What a simple navigational device, to stay away from the provocative people who can so easily push us closer to the edge. But, there's a catch. These people are often the ones at the next desk, across the back-yard fence, in the family circle, or even occupying the next pew. Get real! Sometimes the most aggravating people are the ones we simply cannot avoid. Constant contact is the norm, the irritating persona that is glued to us in an up-close way. Life in the big city means we cannot avoid them, nor can we simply ignore them. Their antics are part-and-parcel of everyday.
Their ways aren't the problem anyway. There's no control button in my response systems that can mediate or otherwise control their actions. My only way around being pushed to the edge with them is to manage my response to them. I surely do have a control button in that department. I can learn the discipline of ignoring their influence over me. Once again, my Christian worldview gives me some common sense and deeply spiritual advice about my reactions to their annoying ways. Make note---
The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Proverbs 12: 16, ESV
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Proverbs 17: 14, ESV
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11, ESV
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
Proverbs 20: 3, ESV
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law,
for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Titus 3: 9, ESV
As usual, there are many others about ignoring the bait of contentious people. They all, however, reference the discipline of managing self, what I wrote about several weeks ago, egonomics. And, of course, this discipline is learned. To overlook an offense, ignore harmful words, remain aloof from strife, or quit before the fireworks all reference a learning process that continue through life. In this Christian worldview, it means being a disciple of Christ, learning his response to those who sought to provoke him.
It is simply an expression of maturity, that which is expected in the Christian worldview, and is even admired in the world system. This maturity is to live above quarrelsome life circumstances and ignore the jabs and pokes of those who would engage us in so much childishness.
Maturity is the answer when dealing with contentious people. And, we all could use some growing-up in that category.