When I left the house that morning, I thought I was only running a few errands. Little did I know I was going to have a front-row seat to an epic life or death battle.

My first glimpse of the saga was nothing to write home about. I rounded a curve, and a sparrow was in the road. Yet, something about the bird drew my attention. At first, I could only see the sparrow. He would hop, then hop again, then again. As I came closer, the ensuing battle became real and clear.

The contender was a grasshopper. I have seen countless birds eat insects. The circle of life isn’t new to me. What made this grudge match so intriguing was the whole struggle was taking place in my driving lane. Typically when my car approached a bird, the bird would fly away, but not this time. The grasshopper would jump, the bird would follow. The grasshopper would dodge, the sparrow would too. The grasshopper would bob, his feathered nemesis would weave. All while 2000 pounds of steel was bearing down on their party.

As I sped closer to the action, my thoughts turned more to the sparrow. “Surely he will fly away.” No luck. That little guy was fixated on catching the grasshopper. I reached the two competitors and all I noticed was the crazed look in the eyes of the sparrow. As soon as the action passed under my front bumper, I quickly shifted my attention to the rearview mirror.

The last thing I saw was a floating puff of feathers.

“Picking your battles” is a great analogy, but historically, battles are focused on winning, breaking down, destroying, or conquering. In reality, when we are talking about a relationship with a spouse, friend, child, parent, or others we cherish, we are investing in a partnership we want to build or save.

When navigating a relationship conflict, some issues are just grasshoppers.

Maybe these five questions will help keep your “grasshopper” in check:

Will this struggle COST what I am trying to build or save?

Does this need to WAIT until another time?

Do we need to BACK AWAY AND RETHINK the discussion or focus?

Do I have enough in the tank to discuss this THE RIGHT WAY?

Does this need the eyes of a TRAINED professional?

Here’s to you, well, not getting your feathers ruffled.

Feel free to check out more from Jim at www.jimword.com