I worked a lot of long hours the past few weeks and the other morning I was grumpy and crabby with my roommate Jane. Until we train ourselves otherwise, we often take out our frustrations on those closest to us. We figure they love us and will put up with our bad behavior. But what about when they don’t?
“I have feelings too,” she said. “When you do that, it makes me feel bad. You said mean things to me and I didn’t do anything wrong.” Well it cut like a knife to the heart, but my immediate response was to get all defensive and instead of apologizing right away, I got even angrier. I think we get the maddest when we know we’re wrong. No one wants to be wrong. Why couldn’t she just have ignored it?
But she didn’t. She confronted me and that was the right thing to do.
How many times have relationships fallen apart because stabbing words have been ignored rather than confronted? The hurt turns into a festering, decaying puncture wound that may appear to go away, but only gets buried for a while and never really gets healed. Finally all the little punctures and cuts connect and the resultant rotting wound is nearly irreparable and the original source of the problem is some distant fuzzy memory.
The source of my anger, for instance, had nothing to do with Jane, and I think this is often the case. Something becomes a trigger and we bring emotional responses from an incident in the past into the present when they don’t belong there.
Learning to act right is a constant process. Peter tells us, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
I was glad Jane confronted me. She made me see my sin and I felt bad about it. She didn’t deserve my wrath. We talked. She understood that I was acting out of the past and was lashing out at something totally not related to her. I told her I was sorry. She forgave me and I determined to act better.
Sometimes after we get confronted with our sins, we get all down on ourselves and pitiful, but the Lord is not one for pity parties. He says, “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed” (Heb 12:12-13). This is a really important point.
When we get lovingly confronted with our wrongs, we need to choke down our pride and straighten up our ways so that our relationships can be healed. If we don’t do this, the scripture says we are lame and could be turned out of the way. If we value our relationships we don’t want to get turned out of the way.
After our incident the other day, neither one of us carried any residual bad feelings and went on to have a great day. Our friendship is peaceful and richer because of the honesty, boldness and transparencies we share.
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