Arguing or Trusting
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
The science behind arguing
I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about arguing. This article explains that arguing increases our cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When we argue, our brain kicks into a fight, flight, freeze, or appease mode that protects us from losing. This hormone causes other parts of our brain, such as the parts that build trust and have compassion, to shut down.
It gets worse when we win. Other hormones such as adrenaline and dopamine flood our brains and make us feel powerful and invincible. We will want to argue again because winning feels good! After a while, if we repeat this habit, we may become contentious and argumentative people. This will have an impact on our physical, relational, and our spiritual life.
The Truth in Malachi
After reading this article, I understand more the danger of harboring an argumentative spirit for my personal life. But the book of Malachi told me what happens in our spiritual life when we fester an argumentative spirit. Malachi shows two conversations. One angry and argumentative one that silences God, and a trusting one that enthuses God.
In the first story, the people argue with God in 6 argumentative and feisty dialogues. They go back and forth, and the people have a disgruntled, angry tone with God. I have… how have you? You have… how have we? Halfway, God exclaims that he is wary of the words of the people.
Then, suddenly towards the end of the book, God is distracted by another conversation. Malachi writes: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine! Says the Lord of hosts, on the day when I make up my treasured possession.”
Now here is the lesson for us
First, we lose relationships if we relentlessly argue. We know from life that in an argument where none of the parties relent, one party falls silent, and both parties are hurt. We can afford this with our relationships at times, but having God fall silent is not a good thing! In the story of arguing, God loses interest in the first conversation. So we stand alone with our argumentative and feisty selves.
Second, trusting and resting make us just as happy. What happens in the story of trusting and fearing God is that God gets distracted by people who don’t talk back to him but talk about him. They don’t find fault but beauty in God. God listens and is so happy that he writes down the words that they say, wanting them for himself. But this way of trusting and conversing makes us happy too! The article in the Harvard Business Review states that when we share and trust, another hormone that feels just as good as adrenaline, namely oxytocin, floods our brain. It makes us happy.
I know our stories all have chapters of grief, anger, and bitterness. But if we fester it without letting go, we will hurt our relationships with people and God. If you are in this chapter of life, try and sit down with people in the name of Jesus. He promises in Matt 18:20 that he will be there too. Sitting together and deciding to trust God even if you don’t understand him and speaking of him will soften your spirit, it will make you happy again, it will build relationships, and it is so beautiful in God’s eyes. Try it, and God will bless it.
Dear God. When I don’t understand your ways and feel disgruntled with you and others, help me be still and know that you are God. And that you are always perfectly right.