A Christian Perspective: When to Confront in a Relationship

A Christian Perspective_ When to Confront in a Relationship (1)

Do you like confronting others?

I certainly don’t. As a recovering people-pleaser and person who has worked hard to overcome an addiction to others’ approval, I have struggled to confront people or initiate hard conversations with the people in my life. My tactics most of the time have included avoiding the situation or the difficult person.

However, God showed me as I have walked through some healing the past few years that my avoidance tactics were not doing good things for my emotional health. I was internalizing negative emotions that needed to come out. There were times that I needed to express my needs or set up boundaries with another person or call them out on a wrong action — and I was silent. This created resentment in me over time and also depression because as Joyce Meyer says, “Feelings buried alive never die.”

I was operating out of the wrong idea that Christians have to be nice all the time. “Nice” meant that I couldn’t upset someone or create conflict with another person because if I did, and they didn’t like it, I felt guilty and took the blame on myself for their angry reaction. However, that was a wrong mentality. Jesus had conflicts with people all the time and often said things that made people very upset (to the point that they wanted to kill Him). However, He lived a perfect life and never sinned.

Why Am I so Afraid to Confront People?

My hesitancy to confront others has been a symptom of my people-pleasing disease. At the root of my approval-seeking is a fear of rejection. The disapproval of others is something I avoid because I avoid rejection at all costs. However, never initiating a hard conversation or confronting someone about an action is not a realistic or healthy way to live.

Conflict is inevitable and even necessary with those around us and closest to us. I have since learned that we should focus on handling conflict and confrontation correctly, rather than attempt to avoid it.

That, yes, God does not want us to allow others to simply do as they please around us. However, whenever we have to talk with someone or call them out on a behavior, we should do so with the right motives and do so in love.

When should we confront? I believe that the Holy Spirit will help us in our relationships, but there are several scenarios that may cause us to have to go to an individual and confront them. According to the Bible, here are a few:

1. When someone wrongs us.

When someone sins against us, and we are hurt by their actions, it is necessary in some cases to go to the person and let them know they hurt us. Yes, there are some instances where we should overlook an insult, but there are other instances where it is imperative that we let the person know that they hurt us. Obviously, you will need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in regards to this, but the Bible is clear that if someone offends or wrongs us, we need to take a direct approach and address it with the person (not run around behind the person’s back and tell everyone how much his or her actions upset us).

2. When we see a fellow Christian in sin.

Again, you will need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in this area, but there are times when we will need to speak to another Christian about a sin issue in their life. We need to carefully check our motives before doing this and make sure we are not approaching the person from a posture of pride, but the Bible says we have a responsibility to help restore another believer back into right choices.

Our motive in these cases should always be restoration rather than condemnation, and we have a responsibility to approach the individual with humility and grace — rather than accusation. However, rather than stand by in silence, we need to speak up and point out the sin and what it says in the Bible concerning it.

They may get angry when we approach them or refuse to stop what they are doing. The Bible says if we are confronting sin and the person isn’t won over by our words that we should take a few others with us to try again — depending on what the situation is. Our responsibility is to make the attempt and talk with them whether they decide to make a change or not. (Note, this process is for fellow believers within the church, not unbelievers.)

3. When we need to set a boundary in a relationship.

I think of “confront” as only meaning to point out a wrong to someone; however, “confront” can also mean “to deal with (something) in a direct and honest way” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Perhaps we have a dominating friend who always talks over us. Perhaps we have a spouse who never asks for our input in financial situations. Perhaps we are under the leadership of someone who doesn’t communicate expectations clearly.

The confrontation may be us starting a conversation with the other person about our needs in the situation or how the person’s actions (even if they aren’t necessarily sinful) make us feel. Maybe we find the idea of broaching the subject scary because we don’t know how the other person will respond, and we are afraid that we will lose their approval.

We don’t have to convince the other person of our view. They may not want to turn away from their action or agree with us. However, bringing up the conversation is freeing for us. We aren’t bottling up our emotions inside or denying our needs in a situation.

Confrontation Helps Us Maintain Healthy Relationships

Confrontation is difficult and something most of us don’t enjoy doing. However, confrontation helps us set boundaries in our relationships by making it known to the people around us what our needs and feelings are — and if they have crossed the line or hurt us.

Confrontation is also a biblical mandate. Being part of a community of believers means also helping one another to live in a way we’re supposed to. This means helping one another when we stumble — but also accepting help and letting ourselves be held accountable by others.

Although not easy or comfortable, confrontation is a key step in overcoming our own people-pleasing tendencies and not allowing fear of others or our desire to make others like us stand in the way of what God would have us do. (Or stand in the way of our relationship with Him.)

Related Bible Verses:

Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

Ephesians 4:15: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Are you afraid to speak your needs or say no to the people in your life? To join in for a discussion on confrontation, subscribe to our free video chat this Monday, July 18, @ 9, or leave a comment below.

Carol Whitaker

Carol Whitaker is a coach's wife, mom, writer, and singer. She left a career in teaching in 2011 to pursue a different path at God's prompting. While she thought that the path would lead straight to music ministry, God had different plans -- and Carol found herself in a crisis of spirituality and identity. Out of that place, Carol began writing about the lessons God was teaching her in her desert place and how God was teaching her what it meant to be healed from a painful past and find her identity in Him rather than a title, a relationship, a career, or a ministry. These days, Carol spends her time shuttling her little ones back and forth from school, supporting her coach-husband on the sidelines, and writing posts. Carol also continues to love music and hopes to pick up piano playing again. Carol is a self-proclaimed blog junkie and iced-coffee lover. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

More Posts

Seeking Forgiveness When You Unintentionally Hurt a Friend

Beulah Girl April May 2016 (5)One of my best friends and I were working out at the gym together this past summer. We are both teachers, so summertime is the perfect time catch up on things we aren’t able to do during the school year. As we were both on the elliptical one day, we found ourselves in a conversation about friendship, specifically, when friendship doesn’t seem to go right.

We discussed our friend wounds. The times when we expected someone to invite us to an event, to reach out and give us a call, or simply to show that they cared more. The times when those things didn’t happen and we were left hurt. Then I began to think of all the people I have missed the mark with as well. And it hit me. We all have unintentionally hurt other people.

As our conversation continued, one specific instance where I had made a previous mistake with my friend Lauren came to mind. She was one of my dearest friends in middle school and high school. I have always enjoyed her company and gentle spirit. We did cheerleading together and had many sleepovers. We have had a close sisters-in-Christ kind of relationship, and she even asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. It was such an honor!

And then life happened. She was enjoying time as a newlywed, and I was focused on college and my boyfriend. Our friendship sadly faded into the background.

My boyfriend proposed, and we began planning the details of our wedding. (OK, maybe I did more of the planning!) One of the big tasks was to create our guest list. My initial list was around 175 people. As we looked at our budget, we realized we needed to cut down the guest list to 130 people. I went through the list several times and reluctantly removed several people. You guessed it: Lauren was one of them. And it has haunted me ever since.

As I headed home that day from the gym after the conversation with my friend, Lauren was the first person I thought about. I was heavy with regret and began to pray. I felt that I needed to reach out and apologize to her. I had thought of doing this several times before, but for some reason couldn’t find the courage. Well, not this time. I decided I was going to contact her.

We still kept in touch mainly on Facebook, liking each other’s pictures and occasionally leaving comments, so I decided to write her a message there. I finally apologized to her for not inviting her to my wedding, and told her how thoughtless that was of me. Thankfully, she graciously said I had already been forgiven. I’m so glad God worked that out! Even though we may not see each other very often, she is still someone close to my heart, and I would never want to hurt her.

Whether it’s on purpose, or a mindless mistake, we all hurt each other sometimes. We are a fallen, broken people apart from God. We need Him. None of us is excluded in this. He alone is perfect love, and He knows the way for us to be in right relationship with each other. Therefore, it’s important that we give our relationships to Him, the broken ones and all. He will mend them as needed. Here are a few things we can do in order to surrender our relationships to Him.

1. Ask God to open our eyes.

Ask God to show you where you have sinned against someone, whether you meant to or not. Take time to examine your relationships according to His Word. Did you say something that you shouldn’t have? Or maybe something you did was taken the wrong way? Or maybe, like my story, you hurt someone out of ignorance? Instead of casting the blame on someone else or making excuses, search your own heart and actions. Open your eyes to what has happened.

Beulah Girl April May 2016 (6)

If the hurt happened on both sides, don’t focus on their actions; focus on your own. Matthew 7:3-5 tells us, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

2. Take the first step and reach out.

Once your eyes have been opened to a relationship that needs healing, take the steps to reach out and make it right. Pick up the phone, write a letter (or Facebook message), or make plans to get together. Apologize from a sincere heart. Show the person that you care enough about the relationship to take a step of faith, even if it feels uncomfortable.

3. Trust God to bring healing.

Whether the restoration happens immediately or takes a while, trust God. Pray about it. Surrender the broken and the tainted things to Him. He is faithful, and His Word will not return void. He wants us to be in right relationship with each other, and “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

I know there are other instances where I have wronged those around me. I’m praying that God helps me to do these three things as I continue to pursue needed healing. I fully believe that “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16).

Let that be me and you.

Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard

With a degree in music education, Rachel Howard is a middle grades chorus instructor who has a passion for teaching students about her love for music. In addition to inspiring adolescents in the public school system, Rachel is currently taking piano lessons and also enjoys photography, scrapbooking and Francine Rivers novels. A small-group leader at her church, Rachel also leads worship on occasion. In addition to these roles, Rachel is a wife and mom to two kids, Isaac and Evelyn. Rachel currently resides in Georgia with her husband and kids.

More Posts

When It’s Not Wrong to Be the Center of Attention

I often find myself in a state of metacognition, a time of thinking about my own thinking.

My dad and I were in a tea house last year (yes, I’m a con-artist to get my dad to go to tea!), and there was a party of ladies sitting near us. The whole time we were there, I noticed that one woman totally dominated the conversation. She sat in the middle of the table and chimed in her own perspective on every topic. I didn’t know the woman, but I couldn’t help but think how obnoxious she was in comparison to her friends. Maybe I felt that because I recognized myself in the middle of that circle.

She was me, and the vision of that time in the tea house has haunted my memory since then.

May Beulah Girl 1000x600 (2)

I have no desire to be an introvert. I enjoy the fact that I can be bold. I like being the life of the party. I like being the center of attention. However, at the end of the day, I find myself replaying every word I’ve said and asking, “What crossed the line? What did people think of how I said that?” It’s not a cocky thing — it’s an insecure thing, an I-will-never-fit-in thing. Who would think that an extrovert who willingly draws so much attention to herself would regret most of the words she so carelessly tosses out? I wouldn’t believe it myself if I weren’t my own eyewitness.

Maybe you know me in real life, or maybe you just know me through the written word. Whether you’ve heard me say it or not, my life’s mission is to change the world. No, really. Some people just say that, but I will live and die by it—live abundantly as in John 10:10 or “die many times before [my] death” in the manner of Shakespeare’s cowards. I can’t rest (really I can’t) unless I feel like I’m accomplishing my mission, and for the task facing me, I need all the bold extroversion I can muster.

So how do I take what can be a vice and make it a virtue? If you’re in the same boat as me, with a personality too big for the room and the self-chastisement that follows, may I give both of us some advice?

Using the Center of Attention for Good

1. Let’s be slow to speak, and let’s make that speech important.

James is my favorite book of the Bible, and his words in the first chapter inspire me on this point: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (v.19). As long as what I have to say is carefully thought out, I don’t need to worry about it. That’s not to say that there won’t be consequences when someone takes me the wrong way, but I will be able to rest easily knowing that I planned what I meant for them to hear.

2. Let’s develop a group of protégés.

Surely we are not to be the only audience of our own wisdom. God has called all of us to do what author John C. Maxwell, author of The 360° Leader, refers to as leading up, leading across, and leading down. It’s in that leading down that we can really make an impact with our words.

Let’s call together a group that we can “do life with” and then regularly meet with them. I lead worship for eight years—maybe an upcoming leader needs something less painful than the school of hard knocks to bolster her own journey. Perhaps young women need to know that they don’t have to go through sexual impurity or depression; they can benefit from what I have to share instead and choose a different direction.

3. We have to translate speech into action.

No one wants to hear a ranty windbag go on and on about the way the world should be without ever seeing those ideas come to life and change the culture. To quote my brother John, I don’t want to be “a serial notrepreneur” for the kingdom. Ideas worth saying are worth doing, or we should keep our mouths shut.

4. We must seek humility as a lifestyle.

We are not the only ones with important things to say; that’s what the whole tea house scenario taught me. If I love an introvert, like my sister-in-law Rachel, I will give her time to think about what she’s going to say (which no doubt will be very profound) without running my own mental to-do list of what I’ll say next.

True love really cares about what the listener (aka victim) thinks and feels. We can’t think so much of our own opinions that we don’t remember what Paul says about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.”

5. I must be OK with me.

That means that we have to be OK with we as well.* The Bible proves the value of a bold lion’s heart time and again. After her idiot husband Nabal treated David’s men with contempt, Abigail’s boldness in restitution not only prevented death but also garnered her a future spot as a king’s wife. Peter walked on water, preached to thousands, and commanded a lame man to walk — these acts of boldness redeemed the times his brash personality got him in trouble even with His Lord.

John the Baptist didn’t hold his tongue to religious or secular leadership, even when it meant his head would be served on a platter, and by such boldness became the forerunner for Jesus. If you and I are in such good company with those who “loved not their lives unto the death” and who “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11), maybe our big mouths aren’t such a bad thing. *That’s not bad grammar. That’s Babyface reference. 90’s music anyone?

The bottom line: If you or I find ourselves the center of attention, let’s use that platform for good. What about you? Are you a spotlight person or more of a wallflower? I’d love to hear your answer in the comments below.

Photo Credit: The featured photo, “Tea Party,” is copyright (c) 2005 Jay Ryness and made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. It has been modified for use on this blog.

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley taught both middle school and high English for many years, and is currently an Instructional Technology Specialist for the public school system, a wife, and a workaholic. She loves nothing more than a clean, organized house, but her house is rarely that way. She enjoys being healthy but just can’t resist those mashed potatoes (with gravy) sometimes. When she cooks, she uses every dish in the house, and she adores a good tea party. She loves Jesus and is spending the next year documenting her journey to a less independent, more Jesus-dependent life on her blog.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

The God Who Opens Doors

door

Facebook is my frenemy.

My friend when I have zinger lines to post up, witty comments or pictures of my kids in their matching Christmas outfits. My enemy when I have thoughts I really shouldn’t share at such lightning speed through cyberspace.

The other week I got myself in a situation. I read an article circulating Facebook about anxiety and fired away a response and posted it. Except after I did I realized that my words were really angry. Anxiety sufferers probably thought I was aiming my gunfire at them.

I wasn’t.

What I thought generated my feverish rant was the view in the article that anxiety is just part of some people — when my own view is that Jesus can help people with anxiety. But there was actually a different reason that article made me angry.

The article reminded me of a situation launching into ministry where I experienced anxiety. Not just a little stomach upset or increased heart rate. A situation where I felt such bad anxiety that my temperature rose to that of a menopausal woman. Where I felt sweat breaking out all over my body and my breaths getting short and choppy. Where I felt me retreating inside of myself like the zoom-in focus of a lens — me, getting smaller and smaller until I was just a little dot hiding inside me. Shaking.

A situation where I couldn’t succeed. Where every place I turned there was a brick wall blocking my path. A situation where I couldn’t make the people around me happy even though I worked my most charismatic personality traits and desperately tried. (Key word: desperately.)

A situation that made me want to make good on a vow I made as a young woman to never let anyone hurt me again.

So, even though I typed up a series of rapid-fire words aimed at people with anxiety needing to get it together, I was really typing a series of words against the people who helped to trigger the anxiety.

I immediately felt God’s conviction afterwards. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until God showed me. God isn’t underhanded. He doesn’t want me to secretly swipe at people. He wants me to directly confront situations or people that hurt me and then let Him heal me.

Consider Hannah, a woman in the Old Testament who had every reason to lash out words of hatred and bitterness. Hannah was barren. She was one of two wives of Elkanah, and even though she was his favorite, she couldn’t bear sons for him like Peninnah, his other wife. Peninnah taunted her year in and year out, but nowhere does it say that Hannah retaliated. In fact, Hannah did just the opposite. She went to the Lord with her grief.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10)

Some important things I can learn from Hannah:

1. She didn’t cover over her pain.

She wept loudly and often. In front of her husband. At the temple (to the point that the priest asked her if she was drunk). She didn’t hide the fact that her situation hurt her.

2. She didn’t use her pain as an excuse for wrong action.

She was devastated by her situation to the point that she didn’t even want to eat, but she did not use that to fuel revenge or bitter action against her rival.

The Bible says that God was the One who closed Hannah’s womb (1 Samuel 1:5). Peninnah aggravated a difficult situation, but it was the Lord who put Hannah in the situation she was in! That is a hard verse for me to read personally because I want to believe that God would never allow me to feel pain, but He clearly allowed Hannah to suffer for a time. In a particular instance in the last few years as I struggled to make sense of my circumstances, I cried out to God one day, “I don’t even know what I am fighting against.”

And I felt like the Lord told me, “Carol, you are fighting against Me.”

I was stunned. Why would God fight against me when He was the One who told me to pursue the direction I did? I don’t know all the reasons, but I do know that He has had a plan for me that has been totally different than I thought it would be. I have wanted my destiny to open up in my way and my timing, but God has not operated on my agenda. He has been more concerned about my refining and preparation than just allowing me to get what I want. He has closed the doors I have so badly wanted Him to open.

What we must observe in the story of Hannah is that although God sealed off Hannah’s womb, He enabled her later to become pregnant. Further in the passage it says, “Elkanah made love to his wife, and the Lord remembered her” (1 Samuel 1: 19). The very situation that is closed to me now may be open to me later in the future. And then there can be no doubt Whom I can give the glory to. As the Reformation Study Bible indicates: The Lord is sovereign over my situations and can intervene in circumstances and turn them in my favor.

I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)

As this passage suggests, God brings blessing and calamity into our lives. He is not capable of sin (the word “evil” most commentaries cite as meaning punishment for sin or affliction), but He allows adversity to come in our lives. Not only that, He puts us in situations specifically where we will experience hardship at times. One of Satan’s best tricks is to get us to turn on others in those moments and spend energy nursing hurts that get us totally sidetracked from the calling God has for us.

What we can learn from Hannah is that when we are in those tough situations where we feel and know that we are wrestling God Himself we need to recognize His sovereignty — acknowledge that while He may be the One who has brought a trial into our life, He is the One who can also remove it. He’s not only the God who seals off opportunities that come our way, He’s the God who opens doors.

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)

As Pastor Dick Woodward says in a devotional about God’s supremacy, God will often put us in difficult circumstances because “He wants us to learn that He is our only hope and our only help as we live for Him in this world.”

Woodward’s assertion has been true in my own trying experiences the last four years: God is after my dependence on Him. My complete emptying of self to embrace His version of me. Is this difficult for me to swallow? Yes. Do I like it? No.

Hannah bore her long-awaited son in due time, and after he was born she sang this song of praise: “For the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3). I believe that the Lord blessed Hannah the way He did because she went to Him with her deepest pain and acknowledged Him as the only One who could transform her impossible tragedy into a story of beauty.

I don’t have to resort to sniper attacks from behind a computer screen. As Hannah’s story reminds me, God knows, and even if I suffer a little while in the process of reaching all He has for me, He will take care to see that His promises are fulfilled in me.

Carol Whitaker

Carol Whitaker is a coach's wife, mom, writer, and singer. She left a career in teaching in 2011 to pursue a different path at God's prompting. While she thought that the path would lead straight to music ministry, God had different plans -- and Carol found herself in a crisis of spirituality and identity. Out of that place, Carol began writing about the lessons God was teaching her in her desert place and how God was teaching her what it meant to be healed from a painful past and find her identity in Him rather than a title, a relationship, a career, or a ministry. These days, Carol spends her time shuttling her little ones back and forth from school, supporting her coach-husband on the sidelines, and writing posts. Carol also continues to love music and hopes to pick up piano playing again. Carol is a self-proclaimed blog junkie and iced-coffee lover. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

More Posts