There are all kinds of people in this world. Agreed?
There are people who like to “hash out” things.
There are people who never want to discuss anything of any substance.
Which is right, do you think?
Is it better to talk things through or just let things be?
I’m a big believer that nothing ever gets completely resolved and that relationships are seriously compromised unless issues are brought out in the open and there is honest and sincere communication. I think that’s how we grow as human beings.
But if you’re not interested in growing and being the best you can be, then maybe it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes Christians call this lack of confrontation, “forgiveness.” I would suggest that’s it often just a case of “I don’t want to deal with it anymore so I’ll use the words “forgiveness” and hide it under the rug.”
Then there are other times when letting something go might just be the thing to do. Not every innocently misspoken word, untoward glance, or unintentional hurtful act needs to be addressed. There are more things that need to be simply ignored than there are those worthy of confrontation.
But when it’s serious enough to cause deep hurt, when it’s caused a deep rift for years, when the behavior is particularly egregious, when there has been no asking of forgiveness, I feel there’s no way we should ignore it. I don’t think relationships ever get resolved permanently without communication. Although I will be the first to admit that because communication is a two-way street if one of the people involved won’t talk, we can’t force it.
But in any such relationship, it will never be authentic. It will always fall just a little short of true intimacy.
I find that incredibly sad.
I also find it inevitable. There are people in all of our lives who are like that. We can only get so close before they put up that wall.
For a long time, I would try to scale those walls but I’ve learned that after too many scraped up knees, it just doesn’t work. Plus, it hurts.
But the one thing we need to remember is that while it is about them not us, we can’t say it’s their problem and pretend it doesn’t affect us. A lot of things can be someone else’s problem and still affect us. I wish we could say, “Hey, it’s their problem.” and that would be the end of it. But it never is.
So what do we do?
I think we acknowledge our hurt feelings to ourselves; we acknowledge we feel distanced from these people who remain closed up.
But we also do something else.
We remember that people will share their feelings only when they are ready to do so, that sometimes it’s all about the timing more than it is the situation.
Personally, I feel very hurt when I sense that someone has put up that wall.
I find I often return in kind and withdraw myself. Can you see what happens if this is allowed to continue? The gulf gets wider and wider.
And that’s how relationships deteriorate. It’s almost always because the initiator in the relationship grows weary of trying to crack open the melon. So either the relationship ends or it changes.
And guess what?
The only person that knows the relationship has changed is the person who worked so hard at it.
As a follower of Jesus, I’m inordinately grateful that God likes conversations. He even encourages it.
We never have to worry about our words. We don’t have to worry that God will back-off or withhold his love. We never have to worry we’re going to run into that brick wall. I find that so comforting.
And here’s something else we often fail to consider.
If God is working in a life, and we interfere and rescue them by overlooking a serious offense, we have short-changed their opportunity to grow.
Parents of children with drug addictions, husbands or wives whose spouses are gamblers, etc. are aided in their behavior when they are never held responsible. So sometimes, our quick forgiveness robs them of their chance to change.
And sometimes I think we are misguided by our own needs and desires.
Take the example of a lonely person. They are very apt to overlook just about anything in anyone because they are lonely. That’s why con artists have taken advantage of so many people; they recognize their vulnerability. They see the hurt and know they want to believe whatever will relieve their pain.
I really get that. I think I could very much be that way were my circumstances different. But at what cost?
Each of us has to settle these issues within ourselves. We can ask some questions.
- If I ignore this, how will I feel down the road when it’s harder to address the situation?
- If this going to change the relationship in a negative way?
- If the relationship deteriorates, do I even still want to continue the relationship? (i.e., how far am I willing to let this go before I will want to end the relationship?)
- If I let this go, will I be encouraging further bad behavior?
Finally, it is as wrong to not forgive as it is to use the word “forgive” for our own purposes. We don’t want to confront because we are uncomfortable with confrontation so we convince ourselves we have “forgiven” them their offense.
What is so interesting about this is that we almost always assume it’s their wrongdoing we are overlooking. We might not want to confront because we might just find out we’re a co-collaborator in the whole situation.
It’s all so complicated, isn’t it?
I wrote about this today because I’m such an observer of human beings. I find people fascinating and frustrating. At the same time, I find them amazing. I would imagine God feels the same way.
Anyway, when you find yourself running into a brick wall time and again, think through what I’ve written and see if it helps.
I hope it does.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.