“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
Confrontation. It’s by no means my favorite topic in the whole world, but it’s a subject I wish I had known more about when I was in middle and high school. It’s usually during these seasons where we begin to form more substantial relationships.
Although we have friends in kindergarten and elementary school, our conversations were probably limited to, “Can I swing on that swing after you?” or “Do you want to come play at my house later?” If someone wrongs us when we’re little, we usually tell it how it is! “Stop!” or “You’re being mean!” When we reach middle and high school, our conversations gain more depth because we are maturing (although the maturing stages vary!). When we are hurt or don’t like something in these seasons, the way in which we handle it probably looks different.
Some might still say it like it is, but others of us tend to whisper. If someone has wronged us, we tell our friends what she or he did, maybe even twisting the story a little to make them look bad. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s called gossip. Or maybe we don’t whisper around, but keep the hurt to ourselves. We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so we “play the martyr.”
This season of life for me was a mixture of the latter two. If I was hurt by someone, even one of my closest friends, I either spread the word to my other close friends or I kept it to myself. In looking back, the ways I handled my hurt didn’t do me any good.
If we’re bonding with our friends by gossiping about someone else, what does that say about the foundation of our relationship with those friends? And yet, I did it! Or, I would keep the hurt to myself (essentially feeling sorry for myself) and little by little, that hurt grew into resentment towards the other person.
Both situations share a common denominator: avoiding conflict. I feared that if I told the person who hurt me what I really felt, that they would find the situation awkward and that they might judge me. Ultimately, I feared that they would drop me as a friend. I have learned over time that confrontation is not a bad thing. In fact, if done in the right way, it’s actually quite freeing and can often lead to a path of reconciliation.
If we’re going to confront someone, we’ve got to check our motives. Are we confronting out of a place of love? Is our primary goal for the other person to understand, for reconciliation? Or, do we just want to accuse them, point fingers, and ultimately, judge them?
Sometimes our initial intention might be in the right place, but when it comes to actually confronting that person, it comes across as harsh and accusatory. And who would respond well to that? Not me!
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul expresses how to approach confrontation saying, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
If we desire understanding and reconciliation with someone who has hurt us, then we must approach our confrontation with humility and gentleness. The truth is, it’s usually never just one person’s fault. And even if it circumstantially is, well, we’ve all done our fair share of wrong and received underserved grace. We should reciprocate that grace.