A precious, dear, kind, loving, joyful, incredible friend of mine once told me this truth: “Confronting is loving.”
In that moment, I felt like she’d punched me in the stomach.
At the time, I didn’t understand what she meant. All I’d ever known about confrontation is that I wanted to run as fast and far away from it as I could and never look back. I have never liked rocking boats, making waves, or hurting feelings, even if my intentions were full of love and concern. I was always worried that someone might misunderstand my heart and be angry with, or at, me for telling them a hard truth, no matter how firmly true my words rang.
This friend told me I not only needed to speak truth into the lives of those I cared for, but that it was demanded of me as a person of integrity. As a Christian.
She was, in that conversation, confronting my own lack of boldness and my overabundance of cowardice in speaking the truth no matter what the consequences. She told me, “you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person, and you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.”
And she was right. Her confronting me was and calling me out on my bull crud was because she loves and desperately cares for me. She wanted me to see and know truth and the freedom that truth could bring into my life.
But it felt so harsh and overwhelming at the time. How could it be true? It felt so unnatural and impolite and against all I knew about social norms of acceptance and “live and let live.”
This entire conversation came rushing back to me in an emotional, clarifying flood as I read this verse tonight:
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Whoa. Did God just tell me confronting is loving? Yes. Yes he did. But context counts. Wounds from a FRIEND.
Not wounds from some random internet comment warrior on Facebook or Twitter. Not wounds from complete strangers in the grocery store who can’t fathom why you have so many children and asks, half-jokingly, “Don’t you know what causes that?” (BTW, the answer is ALWAYS yes, in case you’re one of those who feels inclined to ask). Not wounds from Christians who don’t realize nobody asked their opinion but feel led to “gently correct” all those around them based on their own personal convictions.
Wounds. from. A. Friend.
With our friends, we should be completely and totally honest. With our friends, we should be willing to hurt their surface feelings in order to heal their deep wounds. With our friends we should be able to admit when we are wrong and they are right, and not only offer correction, but recurve it too.
We should recognize that when they confront us about our crazy, irrational, or deeply sinful, behavior, they do it because they know us, they love us, and they know it is better that they, rather than anyone else (especially life’s consequences), tell us the truth.
They confront us to help us. They do not hide their love from us, even if it means rebuking us openly. If they wound us, we can trust it’s because they care, and want to shelter us from bigger consequences. I’m so thankful I had a friend who loved me enough to teach me this truth.
God loves us in that exact way. He calls us on our crap. He loves us and knows us more and better than any earthly friend. Just as we have to choose to not be angry with a friend we know means the best for us, we have to trust that the Lord only confronts us in loving kindness and not harbor anger toward him for his rebuke. Stop licking your wounds and start looking for why you got wounded.
Today my prayer for you is that you would let go of any anger or hurt you might be feeling toward the Lord, or toward a friend who loved you enough to tell you the truth, and confront the lies you’ve been telling yourself. I pray you would be bold enough to confront (IN LOVE, not vindication) those closest to you in your life who might need it, and brave enough to deal with the consequences no matter what, because you prayerfully cried out for the right words to say before every saying them.
I pray that you find those friends who are closer than a brother (or sister) and never let go! And I pray that you will cling to the Lord, embrace his rebuke and his loving kindness in all areas of your life at all times, and know that he is your friend who can always be trusted. Confronting is loving when it’s done in love.