I was listening to a mother tell a story about her little boy who is in the second grade. She said that, earlier in the week as school was letting out, she was in her car waiting for her son to arrive. He tossed his backpack onto the backseat and climbed in. “How was school today?” his mother asked, the same as she asked everyday. She was waiting for the usual response of, “Okay,” but that was not the case. He pulled himself up straight, looked at his mother and replied, “I had to leave the playground and that wasn’t fun.” His mother’s first thoughts were, oh no, was he misbehaving? Is that why he got sent off the playground? “What happened, Buddy?” she asked. “A really mean boy wouldn’t quit calling me names. He said I was a baby because I don’t like being pushed high in the swing. I told him it wasn’t true; I just feel sick when I go high. He said I was a liar and a baby. He wouldn’t stop, so I just left the playground.”
The mother was proud of her son. I was proud of her son, too. At seven years old, he knew something that many adults don’t know — when to walk away. When we find ourselves in disagreements or misunderstandings, we rightfully want to explain ourselves. We want those involved to understand the truth about a situation and to believe it. Sadly, in this world, that doesn’t always happen. Is it okay to explain ourselves? Of course. Is it okay to engage in endless conversation about it? Yes, if you want to spend your time that way. Is it okay to argue and shout and call names back at the person? Never. Sometimes, when you have exhausted your explanations, it’s best for your own peace of mind to simply walk away.
It’s sad to say but there are people in this world who seem to thrive on argument. The possible reasons as to why are too numerous to list. Perhaps it’s due to the person’s own sense of low esteem, seeking to make someone look weak so they will look strong. Perhaps it’s due to some degree of mental illness. Perhaps it’s a spiritual matter of evil fighting good. It’s like a tangled ball of wool that becomes impossible to unravel. It’s best left alone.
Scripture tells us in Romans 12:18, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Sometimes, having done all we can, the only thing left is to walk away. I take another encouragement from Proverbs 18:1 which reads, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
We must guard our own hearts, taking care not to let bitterness set in. By all means, hold the person in prayer, hoping for the best. Ask Father to keep your own heart and mind in peace. His peace weathers any storm.
It’s fun on the recreation field of life when everyone plays fairly. However, when a bully takes over, when trying to live in peace doesn’t work, when even gentle answers are ignored, it might be time to simply — leave the playground.