The Triangle

It has three points. It is one of the first shapes we learn to recognize. Triangles are one of the easiest musical instruments to play. Geometry unlocks the mysterious angles and formulas of triangles while Driver’s Ed class trains our eye to see this three-sided shape as a yield sign. Triangles may seem innocent enough, but they can really be quite dangerous!

Have you ever gotten caught up in a triangle between you, your child and “their father”?

or…

Have you been caught in triangle between you, someone in your church family and “the pastor”?

Both scenarios can be quite dangerous and yet filled with good intentions. The hardest part of any communication triangle is figuring out if it is actually an effective way to share information between three people or if it is simply a manipulative tactic that you are being drawn into. Trying to discern the motives of others is usually a very slippery slope. In time, and with prayer, it will become obvious if the ‘well-intentioned’ individual is truly well intentioned.

There are times when we believe that we are being ‘invited’ into a triangulated conversation that we need to just listen and value the person’s comments, but then just stop there. There are other circumstances when it is wise to direct the individual to the third point of contact in the triangle – the actual individual who needs the information. And, there are times when it is wise and appropriate to share the information with the third party – whether to give them “a heads up” of what may be coming down the road (if the person has the courage to speak to them directly) or simply to pass on a message.

Not all triangulation is manipulative. Often it is just the result of convenience or a lack of self-confidence.

In a parenting setting, teamwork between mom and dad is essential. Learning to recognize when a child is playing a parent against the other is typically best learned by trial and error. Honest communication between mom and dad is key to help each other stay on top of the situation and allows both parents to react with grace, direction and as a team. It doesn’t take long for the child to figure out that mom and dad can’t be fooled. They are a team and they can’t be played against each other.

In a church setting, teamwork is also key. Knowing when to simply pass on a message to my husband is essential, because sometimes it is much wiser to encourage the individual to go directly to him. For many pastors’ wives it is not uncommon to work in the church office or to oversee a church ministry. In those cases, a triangle often happens and it can be a very healthy form of sharing communication. However, it is so important to always keep an eye – and ear – out to sense when it is time to step out of a healthy triangle before it becomes unhealthy. It is in those times when you have to commit to trusting your husband, your pastor. He can handle it, and if not he may just ask for your input - at a later time.

The point is that we can be tremendous assets and advocates in situations, but it is so important to know when to excuse ourselves from the conversation. Psalm 34:14 teaches us that we should “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Our goal is to respect our husbands and to respect others. To pursue peace can take great wisdom and constraint. Psalm 141:3 is a great prayer to embrace when we find ourselves overwhelmed with information or suspicious triangles. It says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

If you’re like me there are times when we know too much. People talk. We hear things, but we don’t necessarily know what is the truth. There are also those times when I don’t know enough, but just enough to jump to the wrong conclusion. The easy way out is just to ‘dump and run.’ I may feel better by sharing whatever I’ve heard with my husband so that I can clear my brain, but often times it would be much wiser for me to ask God to guard my mouth and watch over the door of my lips. I need to pray, redirect and seek wisdom from God. Then, if the situation warrants it – and I sense that I should share a critical piece of information with my husband - I still need to consider the timing of that conversation.

So, the next time you are tempted to get caught up in a not-so-healthy triangle, take time to breathe and consider the words of James 3:17, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” God will guide you if you ask for help, and trust Him to guide your words in the days ahead.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
May our words be sweet to your ears and to that of our husbands. May we trust you to guide us, to sense your presence and to recognize situations that are not where you would like us to go. May we be kind to others who may try to take the easy route to solve a problem through us or behind our husband's back. May we have the courage to gently redirect those on to the right path. May you give us discerning hearts and guard our hearts and minds from quickly making assumptions of others. May we seek peace in our homes, in our relationships with others and in our churches. Thank you, God, for knowing each of our hearts and helping us all to be able to work together, with your help, and for your glory. Amen






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