I didn't confront people when needed. I didn't know how.
I didn't take confrontation (loving or not) well. I didn't know how.
I still don't know how, but I'm learning.
When I finally realized I wasn't as noble as a peace-keeper, that I was, instead, a coward, I slowly faced the fact that I needed some courage and some insight into healthy confrontation. Though I felt like the cowardly lion, I knew better than to go to Oz or anywhere other than to the Lord. I now know He was awakening me to this major fault in myself and was preparing me for His loving instruction.
Because . . . well, if no one confronts anyone else, then a lot of bad things, which might have been prevented, will happen. Or someone might not realize how much I love them, because I didn't care enough to try to help them see what they haven't seen themselves. Or I have no hope of being like Jesus, because He confronted people all the time. He knew how to do it, though. Perfectly.
And if I take confrontation the wrong way, then things can get ugly . . . worse instead of better. Who wants that?
The only two people I have felt complete freedom (from fear) to confront are my husband and son. And, yeah, now that I think about it, I've been a bulldozer with them at times. My husband puts his foot down before I can bulldoze right over him. I still apologize because my attitude has been wrong. And I owe my son an apology probably several times a week for the horrible confrontation skills I choose to use with him at times!
So, what I'm talking about in this post is confrontation with anyone but the people who live in my house, I guess. :) I mean, as far as being afraid to do it.
Here's what I've learned so far about confrontation (if you have anything to add, or if you think I'm off-base in anything I say here, please feel free to leave a comment below. I love to learn from other people!):
About Being Confronted:
- If someone is being purposely rude, name-calling, or using ad hominem tactics, it's okay to not take what the person says seriously or to heart--in fact, it's better not to. But, if they want to discuss it calmly later, I should always be open to that kind of conversation.
- I'm not right all the time. There are things people need to confront me about. It's a fact of life.
- When someone takes the time to lovingly confront me about something, they should be appreciated. I know how hard that can be! I need to thank the Lord that they followed His leading instead of holding back like I always used to.
- Being the one confronted takes some maturity and humility. For instance, if someone tells me something I said or did came across in a way I didn't mean it (and that has happened more than once!!), where before I would have become angry with them for having "the nerve" to call me out, now my natural reaction is, "Oh, my gosh! I had no idea that what I did or said made them feel bad! I feel horrible that what I said/did caused them to feel that way!" I'm better able now to think about the other person, rather than attacking or trying to make them feel wrong for their feelings. Thankfully, I have forgiving people in my life, and they aren't confronting me about it because they want me to feel horrible, but to clear the air and to help me know for the future how certain things come across, so I don't obliviously make the same mistake again and again. What love!
- I need to prayerfully consider what the person is saying before embracing or disregarding it, checking with Scripture to see how their words measure up. If they are correct, I need to humbly take the next steps.
- I need to guard against defensiveness.
About Being the Confront-er:
- God calls us all to do this from time to time.
- It's not comfortable, but it should not be ignored. I need to allow God to strengthen my courage more than I nurture my fear!
- Never confront a relational issue with the sole objective of receiving an apology. This is my own policy--I'm not certain yet if it's right or wrong, but from my study of the Bible as a whole, I feel like it's right. I don't really think "my feelings were hurt" is worth the efforts or possible negative results of a confrontation. In my opinion, it should be a benefit to the other person as well (with the understanding that they may not receive it that way), in helping them to see something they didn't see so they don't inadvertently repeat an offensive behavior; restoring a relationship; helping them overcome a habitual sin, etc. It should never just be about me and my feelings. Anybody see this differently?
- I need to be balanced. I'm not even close to being too far in the other direction (bulldozer) at this point. I've gone from letting everything go to confronting some things, but I probably still let some things go that should be confronted. I never want to cross the line to the other side, either. This is where my next point comes in.
- I need to pray, pray, pray before confronting (or letting it go), to make sure the Lord really is laying it on my heart, to be certain my attitude is right, and to ask for the right words to say. I also need to pray for the person who is to be confronted, that their hearts and minds will be open, instead of defensive.
- I need to always be a student of the Bible, so I know right from wrong, what's important to God, and how Jesus handled things.
- I also need to not cower to anyone/anything trying to change the definition of "love" that is found in the Bible. Many will say that love does not confront, does not hold accountable, will never cause pain. That's just not biblical! Confrontation and accountability, with kindness and a spirit of restoration, are part of biblical love. And sometimes people cry or feel anguish when they realize an error they've made. That's not a bad thing!
- I need to speak with humility. I am utterly aware of my many imperfections (and that maybe I have more I'm not aware of yet!). I'm never someone who has "arrived" talking down to anyone else.
- I need to trust God with the results. The person may be receptive or not. They may be defensive or not. They may be mature about it or not. I'm not responsible for any of that. I'm responsible to be obedient to my Lord. I can't let the possibility of a hateful retort or the possible "turning the tables to get you back" keep me from obedience.
- I need to allow myself to be human. I can't get it right every time. I'm typically decent with words, more so with the written word, except in situations of confrontation. That's where my words get the most tangled up, and I feel like I say things I didn't mean to say, or don't say things I should have said, and usually feel like I've done a horrible job. But I can honestly say I've always done the best I knew how right then. Maybe I'll improve with time and as I seek and gain more wisdom from the Lord. When I make mistakes, I need to learn from them and move on.
- I need to keep it between me and them. If I'm not willing to talk to them about it, I shouldn't be talking about it with anyone else, either. It's not okay to cause humiliation or to taint others' view of anyone with gossip!
The issue of confrontation is just one of many areas the Lord is working on in me. *Deep sigh.* I'm so thankful for His patience with me! :)