Confrontation isn't comfortable. It goes against our sinful nature. We don't like to deal with problems, especially when it means being the first to say, "I'm sorry." Oh it's easy to tell someone that they hurt you. Often times we do that with flailing arms, screaming at the top of our lungs. (Ok, maybe that's just me.) But how do we apologize, I mean, really apologize by asking for forgiveness in a way that communicates a genuine desire to nurture a friendship?
Then what if you've been wronged in the process too? What if you feel hurt and in need of hearing an apology as well? But when the dust settles, it looks like all eyes and ears are on you, waiting for you to accept your responsibility as the only guilty party. I don't know about you, but everything within me screams for JUSTICE at a time like this!! What about the part in the Bible that talks about "...speaking the truth in love.."? I don't know about you...but recently I've felt like I definitely have some TRUTH to speak, but I don't know how "lovingly" it would come out!
Recently I had a "run-in" of sorts with an African sister in church. The issue...very minor. The way it played out...pretty major. So here we are: a misunderstanding with personality differences and cultural differences among 2 people who are at different stages in their walk with the Lord. BANG!
I believe that these "collisions" come into our lives for a reason: to conform us into the image of Christ. Each time we face something like this we have a choice: to grow or not to grow in our walk with Him. I went into this thinking, "Ok, if I'm gonna grow, she's gonna grow too!" But wait a minute...we can't force someone to "see the light" and decide to let God work in their life. I know that. But I also know that as well as the Holy Spirit, God uses His people to encourage and draw others to Him.
So therein lies the dilemma: How much do I say? Where do I draw the line? Do I have any right (after apologizing) to "drop a hint" about how I was also wronged, hopefully causing her to realize an area in her walk with the Lord where she needs to grow? I wasn't planning on preaching or making a big deal about it. If I, someone who is directly involved, doesn't say something, who else will? She's my friend, shouldn't I have the freedom to talk with her about this? But then again, would she even listen since she felt like I hurt her? But she hurt me too? And I could go on....but I'll spare you my schizophrenic arguments.
Anyway, I was encouraged (or threatened...depending on how you look at it ;) by my husband to let it die. As one who has wronged, pointing out the "log in someone else's eye" would pretty much cancel out any apology. I on the other hand felt like if she were truly my friend, we would be able to talk about what happened cordially and mutually apologize. Oh well. I decided to go against my own nature and apologize without expecting one in return and without pointing out any wrongs committed against me...even with the intent of encouraging her in her walk with the Lord. I read 1 Cor. 13 over and over, asking God to help me LOVE her. It helps to read that chapter and be reminded exactly what love is. We as human beings in a God-less society warp the true essence of love. I like how The Message explains what love is:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
That's when I realized. I'm here as a missionary. It's actually easier to help folks financially with basic, daily needs or share the Gospel with a muslim. But honestly, all of this is pointless if I can't model true LOVE.
I guess what it boiled down to was that I doubted that she would listen and obey the Holy Spirit's prodding in her life. But what if she doesn't hear that still small voice now? What if takes 3 years and she keeps repeating this same mistake...hurting other people and herself? Why do I somehow feel responsible for that? Why do I feel like if I warn her now...then that'll save a lot of other people (and herself) from a lot of hurt down the road? Why do I feel like I need to fix this??????? Ugh.
I'm still not sure where the line is. I'm still not sure what our role is in "sharpening" our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Did I quench the Holy Spirit because I listened to my husband? I guess we'll never know. I felt like the "talk" we had went well....but it could've have gone better in some aspects. It's hard to separate our cultural way of doing things from the way God asks us to do things in His Word. But like most things that have to do with the human heart....they take time. I just have to realize that I can't always be the "fixer". Just because I may see an issue...doesn't mean I have to be the one to bring it to light. I choose to trust that the Lord is at work and that His ways are higher. He will finish the work that HE has started in ALL of us! Lord teach me to be content with praying when I can't speak!!
Here's a little poem I wrote while sitting the hospital reflecting on this whole messy issue...
I have no rights, I lay them down
The right to fight, to hold my ground
I must surrender when falsely accused
Refusing the urge to make them pay their dues
I must leave justice in the hands of my Lord
Choosing peace as my reward
Lord grant me humility when I've been wronged
Patience to walk the road of reconciliation--so long--
When the moment is right, help me speak the truth in love
Knowing that conviction from Your Holy Spirit alone is enough
I have no rights, I lay them down
Forever grateful for my Savior who willingly chose to wear the crown.