You might think this is a post about my children and the various ways we have decided to parent them, but it’s not. It’s a post about me… and it’s a tough one to write.
A few weeks ago I got an unexpected message from a friend. The message was calling me out on something that I said in reference to another person, and that what I said sounded disrespectful and needed to be corrected.
I’ll admit that when I received this message my knee jerk reaction was to get angry and indignant. How dare this person talk to me in such a manner? I stewed and stewed, mentally preparing a response, typing out what I wanted to say, and deleting it over and over again. As the hours passed I hit just about every negative emotion from anger, betrayal, and frustration, until I finally landed on sadness. I sat in the quiet, staring at the wall, trying to process what I was experiencing, and as I sat there, a strange thing happened. I began to see exactly where my friend was coming from. While I had never meant to be disrespectful, when I surveyed my own actions and attitudes I could easily see how it was read that way. I had been disrespectful. I had injured the other person, and they had no idea they had been injured.
And then I cried a lot. I cried and cried because I saw my actions for what they were, harmful and ugly. When I finally pulled myself together I contacted my friend to say thank you. I thanked my friend for loving me enough to do what they did. This friend risked putting our relationship on the line in order confront sin in my life. Heaven knows it hurt to hear, but I needed to hear it.
Sometimes I fear that we as a church are too polite and afraid to approach our brothers and sisters in Christ and confront them for the sins in their lives, so instead we leave them to limp and hobble through life, from one self-inflicted disaster or tragedy to the next, ruining relationships and adding to their own burdens. We are so afraid of offending people that we are unwilling to guide them and teach them as Christ would. We’ve lost the art of intimate communication within the church, comforting ourselves with small talk and pleasantries.
What my friend did was BRAVE and my friend did it in a very kind way. This friend didn’t shout my shortcoming from the rooftops, they didn’t whisper about it behind my back, they contacted me directly and discreetly in a way to minimize my embarrassment, with a better chance of getting their message heard.
But even so, had I responded immediately, my pride would have irrevocably damaged our relationship. It was only when I allowed myself to get past those initial emotions and deal with the issue at heart, was I able to acknowledge that I had been in the wrong and take steps to correct it. I went to the person I had hurt and explained the situation. They had no idea at first what I was talking about, but I asked for their forgiveness and it was freely given. It was a very humbling experience, but one that taught me a valuable lesson about the damage our tongues can do and the importance of owning up to our sin.
Church discipline is important and within the confines of Christian friendship, it is a necessity. I think about my friend’s message often and I am so grateful to them for loving me enough to speak up. I hope I am a better friend because of it.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
The kids are visiting their grandparents and it looks like Big E had a long day. He wasn’t feeling well last night, but thankfully he is on the mend!