I was stunned. I stood and stared at what I’d just read and I was shocked by it. This initial reaction was followed up with anger; passionate anger! I was HURT! What I had expected from this person; a person I expected to not only love me but care about and support me, was completely opposite of what this person offered me. Instead of empathy and compassion the words in front of me expressed self -righteous justification, as well as condemnation directed at me.
This person had recently committed an act that hurt me. I don’t believe it was intentional. I don’t believe the person recognized they had caused offense. It was, in the most literal sense, a thoughtless act.
Actually this wasn’t the first time this person had committed this type of offense. In the past I’d let it slide; just as I’d let numerous offenses slide, by this person, and others, over the years.
The truth is I feared confronting this person. I fear confronting others, period. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m primarily a peace seeking person.
Thus it is I’d developed a long time habit of stuffing away my hurt each time this person offended me; choosing instead to keep the peace to keep relationship.
In fact, I’d been doing this for so long I wasn’t aware I was doing it. It is another family member with a different type relationship to this person; thereby being afforded a different perspective, who was able to recognize what I was doing so as to be able to point out to me this behavior of mine.
This it is how I was able to become aware of something I’d long been unconscious to.
So, when this most recent offense took place, now that I was aware, rather than attempting to ignore it, I sat down and typed up a message to the offending party. Because the issue affected my emotions, before sending the message, I read it to my husband, seeking feedback, as I wanted to be sure my message was not offensive.
In my message I addressed the issue as I saw it, but as I did so I carefully assured the offending party of my love for them and assured them I did not believe they offended intentionally. I expressed my belief they were unaware and asked that they search their heart and seek the Lord in regard to the issue. I signed my message with love.
I saw nothing of the kind in their return reply.
Before long another family member jumped in demanding I owed the offending party an apology.
I OWED THEM AN APOLOGY?!
Apparently it was determined that because the offending party was upset by my confronting them, “I” owed “THEM” an apology.
What should have been a matter between me and the party who offended me was now being blown up into a family fight as this family member was now including other family members who saw the situation from their perspective and gave absolutely NO consideration to where I was coming from.
I struggled for a while with self-doubt, questioning if I’d done something wrong. Ironically, it was within the pages of a book given to my daughter from the party who had cut us off that I read a paragraph which assured me that rather than doing something wrong I had in fact done exactly what I should have done; what I should have been doing all along.
In their book “Safe People” Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend write:
…”This is an important point. The areas that we usually most need to change, we are unaware of: know, but resist owning; or we know and openly rebel against. All three of these stances demand intervention from the outside. We need our brothers and sisters to make us aware of our behavior, confront our denial, and take a stand against our rebellion. If we remain in some hurtful or sinful pattern, a true friend will come to our aid to save us from ourselves.”
“…and we also need to make sure that we are not what the Bible calls a fool, someone who will not heed the discipline of others (Prov. 12:5, 15:5; 17:10). If we are, we are headed for destruction and many more ‘unsafe relationships’”.
…”It is also in our relationships that we learn the ways in which we fail to love correctly. It is only as we relate intimately to others in the body of Christ that we find out how unloving we can actually be. They tell us, we apologize, receive forgiveness, and then try to do better. Through this process of failure, forgiveness, and growth we find out the areas and ways we need to change, and God is then able to change us.”
“I would have never grown in the way that I needed to if I had not been involved closely enough with people that I would get tested. If we never have close relationships, we can be under the delusion that we really are loving. It is only in the testing ground of real love, not concepts, that we get stretched and tested.”
“We have talked about what safety really is: dwelling, grace, and truth. And we all need this safety from other people. God designed us for safe people, and in the context of his family of safe people, we can grow into the image of his Son, who was and is the ultimate Safe Person. ”
From the above, I recognized how detrimental is has been for this family member to be surrounded by people who are afraid to confront them when they offend. Under the misguided notion it is loving to shield a person from feeling hurt; by confronting them when they fault, we actually hurt them more because, in so doing, we allow them to continue in negative behavior which is detrimental for their spiritual growth.
I now recognize ALL of us need correction from time to time in order to recognize aspects of ourselves that we might otherwise not see. We can’t, and won’t, seek the Lord’s help to correct personal weakness if we are not even aware it is there. If we don’t seek His help in making the needed correction we will simply continue on in life in both ignorance and sin.