Monday, March 7, 2016

Confrontation, Accountability, and Gossip

   Relationships are tricky, sticky stuff. There are intricacies that complicate various situations, so things are rarely black and white. Gray seems to be the name of relationships. Some aspects, anyway. There's no denying there are varying degrees of relationships, various depths of closeness that also affect how we handle the people around us. Hence the grays.
   Over the last two years since we moved to Virginia from New York, I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people. Over these two years I have gotten to know many a bit better. Sometimes that has meant I chose to distance myself from them because of the ugliness I saw in them when I got to know their true hearts. Others have shown themselves to be so sweet and lovely, inside and out, I am always wishing I had more time to build deeper relationships with them. Relationships are really hard for me, but I do want them. BADLY. I'm just bad at hurling myself out there for them. My brain always says they must have enough friends already so they don't need me, what could I offer in their lives that they'd want to put the energy into a relationship with me anyway, when is it okay to open up and seek out help when I need it and not be seen as a needy, weepy burden, and  all sorts of other introvert thoughts. Maybe relationships aren't plagued with such thoughts for many others, but this is how my brain works. So I often sit back and watch. Hold back and wait. Serve and give any moment I have the opportunity, hoping it'll make me worthy of their effort in a relationship.
   In this watching, waiting, and giving, I've been blessed and I've been burned. Haven't we all? I've seen a lot more happen, heard a lot more said than people probably realize because I don't often make it known that I am seeing and hearing it all. Is it the stoic, German, people-watcher in me, maybe? I come by it honestly, I think. One thing I'll never understand is why people can't just deal with stuff head-on. Why are we so terrified of confrontation? I am not. Anybody who knows me knows this is true. It's part of my filterless modus operandi. I don't shy away from confrontation, and I don't reject it. I like it. Can you imagine? I know that intimidates people, but here's the way I see it: If I'm doing something to upset you(or vice versa), it's not fair to either of us to say nothing. I will not know I'm doing anything wrong so I'm going to keep doing it, you're going to keep being upset, frustrated, offended, etc, and it's going to keep causing tension between us. There is one single solution: say something. Say it bluntly and say it respectfully. That gives you the release of being rid of the burden of frustration, and it gives me the opportunity to see the error in my actions, words, etc, and become a better person by realizing how I am affecting those around me. What's better, that's the biblical approach! To keep silent is a disservice to everyone.

"Don’t be secretly angry with your friend. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are also wrong." -Leviticus 19:17

No gray there! The trap so often found in society is to not only stay silent, but to chatter about your frustrations with one another to others. I cannot express enough how juvenile and unproductive this is. But we all do it. ALL.

 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 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.’" -Matthew 18:15-16 

   That right there is not gray. That is really cut-and-dried: Some one you have relationship with offends you, wrongs you, sins in front of you? LET. THEM. KNOW. Just the two of you, with respect and privacy, tell them. The dreaded confrontation. If they respond in anger, denial, and just plain don't listen? THEN it's okay to take the issue to a trusted one or two mentors, and have them help you to ensure you're taking a biblical approach and the person can see that these trusted mentors agree. This is not gossip. This is not the Christian approach to gossip where one says, "I'm telling you this so you can pray," then proceeds to lay out some one's entire stash of dirty laundry. You know the drill. We've all seen, heard, done it. THAT is gossip, not the accountability stated above. Sitting around chattering in a group, talking about the wrongs of a person is gossip, not the accountability stated above. For the record, as stated multiple times in the Bible, skipping step one is not okay.
   Confrontation is good. I know it's hard, but it's good. It helps people change and improve themselves. It helps people be stronger in their convictions, standing up for what's right. It heals relationships. It prunes from our lives the toxicity and inauthenticity we don't need. It is good. Accountability can hurt, but pain is part of growth. It can be a good pain when done the right way. People can't and won't change overnight, but life is a long process of change and improvement. Give those around you the opportunity to grow and learn, just as I am sure you would like the same. Grow together. Or grow apart, if that's what your life needs. But allow growth. For everyone. Best of all, do it without inflicting unjust pain.

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