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Have that hard conversation now

At various times in my life, because of my commitment and love for friends, I’ve chosen to press into complicated and painful situations to say hard things. I’m almost always glad that I did.   On three separate occasions I saw a friend’s marriage teetering on the brink of disaster. Two ti…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
At various times in my life, because of my commitment and love for friends, I’ve chosen to press into complicated and painful situations to say hard things. I’m almost always glad that I did.
 
On three separate occasions I saw a friend’s marriage teetering on the brink of disaster. Two times I sat down with the husband and wife together and laid it out clearly: “Your relationship is on the rocks. You’re not loving one another and if you don’t make some dramatic changes, you’ll end up divorcing one another. Is that what you want? Because, that is what you will get.”
 
Those were hard conversations. In fact, all three marriages ended in divorce. Two of my friends worked hard to try and avoid the calamity and one said he didn’t care, that it was too late.
 
Three years ago, knowing that my friend Robert was dying, I sat down with him and a close family member. He needed my help in making plans for what to do after the funeral. But she couldn’t face reality. My blunt assessment of a terrible future scared her. Better to push the possibility under the rug.
 
The grief expressed at the funeral was all the more bitter as a consequence. The theme of the mourning was: “How could God do this to me?” We struggled to celebrate his life. All you could do was hug the mourners and pray for grace. And a constellation of hard decisions still remain before us.
 
Denying reality is rarely a good strategy. Shrinking away from pain only ensures that its grip on you will last longer.
 
What knotty problems are stalking you? What ugly issues are you stiff-arming, hoping they just go away? A passive-aggressive approach to life kills us by degrees. The stress of unresolved conflict produces the fruit of graceless living, illness and stunted relationships. Better to have that hard conversation now.
 
I suggest asking God, “How do I bring this issue up?” and listening to what he has to say about it. He tells us that there is no test that we face that others haven’t faced before and that, if we let him, he’ll make a way of escape.* That way of escape is usually through, rather than around the pain.
 
* 1 Cor. 10:13

Comments (2)

  • So so true. I hate that kind of conversation, not just having it with other people but when other people have it with me. Yet I am profoundly grateful for the truth-tellers in my life and much as I hate walking through the painful things in me I’ve had to face and change, I would hate it more if the lack of change sapped the life out of me. But it’s worth it. Though it is hard sometimes to keep a humble heart that will listen and respond with a yes to God in it all. But it’s worth it. It’s always worth it.

  • As a person who has struggled with many things, I’ve found no better medicine than the blunt truth. Actually, I’ve found no better love than that. It is stinking hard to confront people, it’s taking a risk that you’ll be rejected, that you’ll wound a relationship!

    But I have to tell you, please take that risk, man! Speak that truth in my life, DON’T let me suffer and die in these circumstances. And I hope I do that for others too.

    Urgh. Hard on both ends, but like Seth said, always worth it.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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