Tricia walks into the room. There are knots in her stomach and her hands are shaking. She so desperately needs to talk to her husband Frank about how he has been treating her, but she is so afraid. She already knows of his reaction of screaming and yelling. Will she have the nerve to do it this time or she back out like she always does. She thinks to herself, “He won’t listen to me anyway so why bother.” So she continues on in a life of fear and dread hoping for better days.
Is this you? Which one are you? Do you relate to Tricia or Frank? If you relate to Frank then you probably won’t agree or accept that it is you. For many years I avoided confrontation with my wife and others due to fears of possible reactions such as those described. The word confrontation still makes me twinge.
If you are struggling with an issue you need to discuss with someone whether it is your spouse, friend or co-worker it is very likely you will receive this kind of response.
· Threat of Anger – You begin to see their face tighten and fist clinch and you know there are going to get mad no matter what you say so you refuse to go on.
· Threat of Mood – They may start crying, get depressed or act out as a martyr.
· Threat of Charm – The may make a joke out of it, return your issue with compliment to throw you off balance and make you feel guilty for mentioning it.
· Threat of Procrastination – Get depressed. Make promises of change, but never quite get around to it and then passive/aggressively get even with you.
You are or have been one of these people. The main reason people are not honest and truthful with others is because we won’t allow them. The truth can be painful so we immediately throw up our defenses.
Now the other side of the coin
· Rather than confront you may attack, belittle and demean, present or demand ultimatums.
· You don’t confront, sit quietly and grow bitter.
· If you do confront, you do it in such a friendly way the person has no idea what you’re talking about. You usually refrain from confrontation because you want everyone to like you.
· You won’t confront burying you head in the sand and hope it blows over or boast how nothing bothers you and you just let in roll off your shoulders until one day you blow like Mount St. Helens.
When I learned the truth about confrontation I found it extremely freeing. The real truth of why we don’t confront is really not as much about fear as it is about selfishness.
· I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
· I don’t want to get hurt myself.
· I want everyone to like me.
· I really just don’t want to deal with it.
· My way or the highway.
You can live your life in fear and selfishness if you desire, but the joy and freedom that comes with truth. And they shall know the truth and the truth will set them free. John 8:34 This is only one application of this verse, but so often I see more and more.
It’s when we tell others the truth for their benefit and not only ours and sometimes not ours at all. When we see others hurting themselves with poor behavior we should want to enlighten them, not attack or hurt them.
Example: A friend has a negative attitude about everything. They have difficulty keeping a job, making or keeping friends or enjoying anything about life. You don’t just tell them they have a negative attitude and if you don’t change you won’t have anything to do with them either. You talk to them and attempt to discover WHY they have such a negative attitude and guide them to overcome it. Now you are doing it for them. You will probably be amazed at what you learn.
Over the years, Karen and I have learned to respectfully, calmly confront each other about various issues. It is not always fun, but the truth is necessary.
So many times I go to Karen with a new idea or something new I’ve learned and sometimes she shoots it down. At first I may get angry, discouraged or resentful, but then God works on me helps me to realize she was right. You see, I have a tendency to write my own scriptures, make up my own statistics and see things only through my eyes. Karen helps me to rethink and open my eyes and even if I don’t want to admit it she is usually right. It’s because of her truth that sharpens me and makes me stronger. My part is I have to listen not only to her but to God. Is it one sided. No! There have been circumstances where I have sharpened her as well. Some think the only thing I have taught her is patience. Sometimes she is the hammer and sometimes I am. I think she gets to hold it more because I’m the one that needs sharpening more.
The motivation of the hammer should always be Love. When Jesus confronted, scolded or was direct with someone, you knew it was always for their benefit and not His. If you are using the hammer then it needs to be out of love and nothing else. If someone is using the hammer on you it should be out of love. If you feel the person that is using the hammer on you is not out of love you can always be assured that God will use that hammer for Love to help you grow and sharpen. The Bible gives us so many examples.
I don’t know if you’ve heard this song, but it really speaks a lot of truth.
Steel on Steel