Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The truth about taking offense

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

-Michael Card, “Why?”

This isn’t meant to be a sad post, just some reflections on conflict in relationships.
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Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a friend. Anyone could have done it; He had plenty of enemies. But God chose a friend.

It’s painful to reflect upon, and yet at the same time, an indicator of how Christ lived his life. Knowing He would be betrayed, knowing His time was short, He still sought deep, meaningful friendships.

Only people close to us may betray us, yet there is a positive side to the vulnerability, for it means that we have truly loved. They will not all betray us, but they may hurt us in a number of ways during the process of getting to know each other.

There are times when seemingly harmful words from friends can be upsetting, and we wonder what it was that made us so sensitive. But the fact is that the same words from someone on the street wouldn’t have mattered. A stranger's words don't hold as much power.


"Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." -Proverbs 27:6

When we are humiliated or lash out at friends, it’s because they are important to us.

We want them to approve of what we do and how we look (just being honest here), so we wait for words of affirmation.

We want them to take an interest in our lives, so we wait for them to ask questions.

We want them to accept our gifts to them and other displays of affection, so we wait for some positive response.

We want them to accept us, with all our flaws. Is it egotistical? We were made to be relational.

With all our different “languages of love” and other factors, it’s pretty hard to guarantee that the words coming out of our mouth match up with what our friend wants to hear at that particular moment. And it’s hard to guarantee that we won’t say something harsh when we ourselves are wounded.

Criticism is hard to take from a friend, but it indicates an interest in the other person; an investment. There wouldn’t be anything to criticize if we didn’t pay attention enough to make an observation.  We hear "I want to fix you" when all they want to do is help. In fact, pretending nothing is wrong might be worse than saying something potentially painful. Confronting a conflict is so important for the friendship to deepen.

So during the times when I feel wounded and think “why is this person so insensitive?,” I realize that I am reacting because I love him/her. And when a friend reacts to something I’ve said and I’m annoyed by what seem like unnecessary emotions, I can remind myself that our friendship has reached the point where words can do a lot of damage, as well as encourage.That means progress.

As for that person on the street who ruins your day, well, I am not saying that a stranger’s insults can’t be unpleasant. Certain forms of speech would be hurtful to anyone. But it’s not the same as when it comes from someone you care about.

6 comments:

  1. Some interesting reflections; I hope they don't come because you've been hurt!

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  2. I often lash out at people because I have my own unresolved issues that express themselves in unnecessary fears, arguments or anger.

    When I see someone lashing out at me or others for no apparent reason I can safely assume that that person has bottled up some issues that come out in angry outbursts toward others.

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  3. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." -Proverbs 27:6

    Liz, maybe I do not understand something, but name me one example from today's life where this can be applicable?

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  4. I agree with all of this! Thanks for sharing your heart. I think this vulnerability/greater risk of getting hurt thing is the main reason husbands and wives hurt each other so deeply sometimes... maybe more than anyone else could. The deeper you love, the deeper you hurt!

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  5. Yeah, that's what I was getting at! Also maybe parents and children.

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