A while back my wife used a word in an O.R. suite at Mayo Clinic that raised a question among some of her peers. She used the word “confliction” in a sentence and there was immediate pushback in the room. One of her peers was adamant that confliction was not a real word. I also thought she had invented a new word… a pretty good one at that. But it turns out that “confliction” is a real word, a noun that relates to “a prolonged state of disagreement or conflict.” Look it up. And don’t play Pam in Scrabble!
Maybe “confliction” is a good way to describe what may be happening around some Thanksgiving tables this year. While ideally the setting of a meal or sharing around a table is a picture of reconciliation and peace (the Lord’s Supper is such an image), it can be at times just the opposite.
Allow me to give you a gift this Thanksgiving. Not a new recipe for fried turkey… something better. A way to find peace at your table.
The table is an ideal place for conversation. Unless you are planning on having your turkey and trimmings sitting in front on the TV or on the sofa, you will no doubt find yourself in face-to-face conversations around the table. Some frankly dread this experience. It seems that if a conflict is brewing, the face-to-face intimacy with family around the Thanksgiving table will bring it to the surface.
Try these guidelines for communication and conversation this year:
LOOK at the person who is speaking. Communication is 80% visual and physical. A great deal of that is determined through eye contact. Make an effort to look in their direction. Looking communicates value to the person… even is it’s a child who is speaking.
LISTEN with curiosity. It isn’t called “paying attention” for no reason. Listening costs something. It takes something out of you when you “pay” someone attention. Ban technology and TV at the table for one hour so listening can happen. James said, “Let every man be quick to hear… slow to speak… slow to anger.” (James 1:19 ). We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
LEARN something from the people around you. As you “pay attention” to them, make it your aim to learn something about them that you didn’t know when the meal began.
LEAVE disagreeable and volatile topics off the table. Don’t talk politics. Let go of past hurts. Make it your goal this year to forgive an old offense that you may have packed with you when you came home. Let it go… once and for all.
While these four “L’s” will not guarantee the absence of “confliction” around your table this year, they will certainly minimize it. And this year, instead of just saying grace…
… live it.
FOR MEDITATION: And give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
FOR REFLECTION: Season your thanksgiving meal this year with a healthy dose of laughter, kindness and forgiveness. And above all, let your conversation be seasoned with God’s grace.