Confrontation and Resolution Are Not The Same

cf6716efee4e4040d8133c8ebce5ec84I have a fairly strong personality. Sometimes, it means I get a lot done, can lead well, and help others move forward. Other times, it means I’m bossy.

It also means I’m fairly comfortable with confrontation. But for those who shy away from it, that quality in me can be scary. It’s not intended to be. If it is, I’m misusing it.

After all, it’s not confrontation that I like; it’s resolution.

People and relationships are too important to me to allow issues to go unresolved. People can’t grow without remaining sharp. We can’t grow without pruning. Being sharpened and pruned sound painful, and let’s be honest: sometimes they are. But they also help us to move forward, to not get stuck in our own comfortable way of doing things.

None of us are completely responsible for each other’s growth, yet we do have some responsibility. And not just in other’s growth but in our own. Being sharpened and pruned sound passive, but they are anything but. The growth process is active: planting, cultivating, nurturing, pruning, harvesting, preparing. And there are tools for each part of the process. Some tools are sharper than others. Some seem more effective or less desirable, but all are necessary.

Confrontation isn’t intended to just shake someone into shape and get them on the right path. It’s about a relationship of preparation and resolution, and that includes questions, doubts, disagreements, discussions, patience, reconnections, and more.

It’s worth the effort. It’s worth the humility. It’s worth the boldness.

Resolution is often not attained, but it can always be the goal. We can work toward it. It can define the process. It can be part of the foundation of our relationships. It might not always feel steady, but when it’s our goal, it provides firm footing to move forward and grow.

 

Communication and Talking Aren’t The Same

blah-blah-blahSometimes I talk without communicating well.

I know I don’t control someone else’s attention or response, but I can pay attention and respond as I’m talking. After all, talking isn’t the point. Communication is.

I’ve often used the phrase, “But I already told you…” or “I said…,” as if the simple fact that words came out of my mouth secured successful communication.

It doesn’t.

The weight doesn’t completely rest on me, but I need to take communication seriously enough to know that I have some responsibility. I know my motives and my style, so I may think that just saying something to someone or sending an email or text gets the job done. But communication is often less about the content and more about the relationships involved. If I don’t respect the other person through the communication process (and my attitude), what have I gained? What could someone else possibly gained?

The goal of communication is rarely isolated to information.

Communication involves people, so respect, patience, forgiveness, and humility must be a part of it…perhaps even the goal.

 

I told you so.

imagesSaying “I told you so” might get your point across. It might prove you were right and someone else was wrong. It might give you some status…for a moment.

You might feel like you win (and someone else loses, and you’re okay with both). But in reality, “I told you so” is boasting. It drives a wedge between people.

So what if you told someone something and they have now learned the hard way? Isn’t learning the hard way enough? What if, instead of kicking them while they’re down, you reached out a hand of encouragement, helped them dust off, then offered to walk the next few steps together as they limp?

Of course, sometimes staying alongside someone isn’t the most healthy option for either you or the other person. You need to walk separate paths for a while. And if you’re walking separate paths, there’s still no need to say, “I told you so.”

Let them realize it in their own timing. It will stick longer, and you’ll maintain some respect for yourself, and potentially from the other person. After all, would you continually go to someone for advice and help if they constantly remind you how smart they are?

You don’t have all the answers. None of us do. Let’s be humble with what we do know, be willing to grow and change as we discover our misunderstandings, and respect others every step of the way.

Praying Beyond My Ability

8442a97f5e87ffab001111e8f7b1068bI’m not an artist, so I relate to the comparison between what I see in my head and what ends up on paper. We can all relate in one area or another: writing, running, makeup or hair, decorating, or crafts of just about any variety. Our very best attempt seems like a huge flop. Our best just isn’t enough.

Then there is prayer.

It is this same concept but in reverse. When we start with our best, even though it might feel messy and awkward and insufficient to us, God takes the best we have to offer and makes it grand. When we take our pure heart to Him, revealing our trust, He creates a masterpiece. The result is more beautiful and complete than we can imagine.

It is only possible in our humble, vulnerable obedience.

Barbed-Wire Christians

12i-Barbed wireAre you a barbed-wire wrapped Christian? Even if it’s not you, I’m sure you know “that one person” who fits the description. Unless you completely agree with absolutely everything the person has to say (which I doubt is even possible), you watch them poke and wound others. Fighting takes precedent over kindness, arguing over listening, being right over engaging in a relationship to reach out to others. They are “come,” not “go” people, who focus on getting everyone to agree to and adopt their own perspectives instead of engaging people where they are and doing the messy life with them while living truth out loud.

How can you avoid being a barbed-wire Christian?

Laugh at yourself more than others. Live with high hopes and standards of civility. Instead of chronically fighting back, fight how and when God intends. Pursue and follow Jesus well, because when you do, you won’t be retaliatory. Instead, everything you do and who you are becoming will be motivated and prompted by God alone.

What Do You Want More Than Anything?

Help me want the Healer more than the healing.
Help me want the Savior more than the saving.
Help me want the Giver more than the giving.
Help me want you Jesus more than anything.

There are a lot of things we want. Healing for loved ones. Rescue for hurting people. Gifts to be able to use for God’s glory. All things with good intent, but how often do we want to result more than we want a relationship with God? Are we willing to give up the outcome we expect to be best for the relationship that will be better?

I’ve listened many times to Natalie Grant’s More Than Anything, and it has become an ongoing prayer for me. I don’t want to confuse what I want with Who I want. I don’t want to put the benefits that God can give me ahead of the relationship He gives me. He gives me Himself, not just blessings, grace, mercy, forgiveness, provision, understanding, and so on.

I want to to know the One who knows all more than receiving a specific answer. I want to know the Provider more than a specific provision. I want to know the One who created me and gives purpose to my life more than I can explain creation and purpose. None of those benefits are bad things. In fact, they are very good things. They flow out of who God is. As I know Him better, all those benefits come in His doses and timing. But receiving them isn’t my goal.

Knowing Him is.

More than anything.

Should I Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that?

My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people.

And…all those posts were by Christians.

Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can.

Should you?

I don’t know.

Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.’”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)?

Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media.

  • You decide how often you check social media.
  • You decide who you connect with.
  • You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed.
  • You decide what to post and how to engage others.

Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning.

Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work behind the scenes to get support for yourself or against someone you’ve decided has crossed the line. You might be ready to give up on the faith community around you, because all you see are the shortcomings.

Can you quit? Yes, you can.

Should you?

Well…what if you applied some of the same choices available to you on social media? What if you made your connections–in church, your community, and social media–about honoring God instead of walking a tightrope strung across a fire pit? Why walk so close to the edge? Why not work on a secure relationship with God and let Him set the boundaries instead of trying to take control?

He knows what He’s doing. He wants you to trust Him, and that includes looking to Him to make each decision, no matter how large or small, online and in person. Maybe it’s not quite time to quit.