This week I had to have a tough conversation with a friend. Though we have been friends over 20yrs, I found myself hesitant in engaging in the conversation. We fell out a few months ago, and while the interaction upset me and hurt my feelings, I had decided we were no longer friends. And while we hadn't spoke since then, I did express my frustration to God and other friends who did not know her personally. Well this weekend she called out the blue, being busy at work, gave me the excuse to get off the phone stating "I'll call you back later". Later didn't come so she left me a lengthy voicemail. Honestly I really wanted to ignore it, but the Holy Spirit said "avoiding the conversation is not reflective of the healing you have endured over the years nor the strategies I have given you ... why are you hesitant?"
Why do we find difficult conversations so hard? In examining my own behavior, I wanted to share my findings with you:
1. We don't want to deal with the response. Often times we formulate what we will say, yet we fear our thoughts being interrupted or misinterpreted, which can lead to offense or a one-sided conversation. You know the one we all hate where we say "let me finish or let me say what I got to say and then I'm done." This often comes from the desire to release yet too stubborn to listen.
2. We assume the person should KNOW they hurt you. When it comes to loved ones, we automatically assume they should know how we feel and how their behavior impacted us. No matter how long you have known the person, this assumption only leads to further damage because anything uncommunicated is unknown. We still have to teach people how to treat us and this can only be done via open communication. Driving a car everyday does not make you a mechanic.
3. We assume the conversation will result in anger or an argument. How many times have we said, if I tell them how I feel they will only get mad. Conflict is not always negative. Facing it, rather than avoiding it, leads to resolution.
4. We already decided the relationship is over and thus the conversation is pointless. In order for the conversation to be fruitful, we have to enter it with an open mind. Even if you both decide to part ways, addressing the elephant in the room will ensure both parties were heard and understood, eliminating discord going forward should you have to interact in the future.
5. We fail to accept responsibility or to be held accountable for our part. Regardless if you feel you were wronged or they wronged you, it takes two. Most times we have accepted poor behavior for far too long or have become so stuck in our ways that we can't fathom the other person having issues with us.
Dealing with others is difficult. I've learned that the more I give myself grace and accept my own flaws I am more able to accept the flaws in others. Often times a conversation is needed to initiate forgiveness, BUT forgiveness does not always elude to restoration. Love covers a multitude of sins, thus if we approach the conversation with compassion rather than condemnation, we can be confident in whatever the outcome may be.
I decided a few years ago that the way I honor Nene (may childhood nickname, representing the broken little girl) is that I would always give her the opportunity to voice her feelings because she always felt unseen and unheard. I am an advocate for "protecting my peace" and I have learned that inner peace is only obtainable when the heart releases in a healthy manner. Avoiding conflict is not healthy. If you avoid the outward conversation yet toil over it for days, months, even years in your mind, you then become the cause of your distress rather than protecting your peace.
It's ok to take a moment or a few days to reflect. Jot down some points you want to make, so that in the midst of the conversation you won't forget or be thrown off by the responses. Be open to a new perspective and correction. Nobody is perfect, including you. Allow love and compassion to lead you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. - Proverbs 27:6
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. - Matthew 18:15
If the love you shared was enough to hurt you, it's also enough to help heal you. Remember walking in wholeness does not mean you will never encounter pain again, it means that when you do, you know how to handle it!