I can’t believe we are halfway through October already! Where does the time go?
Today I want to talk about how we are responding in our relationships. Are we responding in fear or love? I, for one, have responded in fear for many years. I was always the one to fall silent, run, and hide. I felt safe that way. I didn’t have to have the hard conversation if I ran and hid as well as used the silent treatment. I am sad to say I was still practicing this way of dealing with some relationships until the more recent past. I had responded in fear for so long because I was a hurting. It was my normal. Now, this is not to say that there aren’t times we need to run fast in another direction because someone is unsafe and not good for us - from those people flee because you are fleeing evil. Yet even in that I have learned there is a way to do that and not respond in fear. When we respond in fear to anyone and we run away, hide or fall silent; we don’t give them the opportunity to hear our hearts and respond. We don’t give them the opportunity to see their wrong and change that in themselves. We also deny ourselves an opportunity to love a person in a hard place. Please do not misunderstand me. As I write a lot about relationships and what to avoid and not tolerate, I want to say here that I am not asking anyone to stay in an abusive situation to “love someone in a hard place” or prove you aren’t afraid. Abusive situations are different in that these types of situations have unrepentant (for the most part) evil that is present in the relationship. We separate ourselves from evil. We separate ourselves from people who are hurting us or others. I also want to point out there are some people we can’t talk to because they will not hear us – it won’t matter if we present the truth in a very kind way – they will not listen to us and are bent on their own destruction. We don’t have to participate in that destruction.
The kind of fear I am referring to and that I operated in for a very long time, 20 + years to be exact, sadly, was the unwillingness to talk to someone about a wrong done or something that was hurting them. I was only thinking of myself and whether I was comfortable or not. I was dealing with my own fear and hurts from lies I had believed all my life about myself until these last 10 months, so I am not surprised that I responded in fear with the accompanying silence, running and hiding from certain people. I did not respond in love, I responded in fear. They never did hurt me directly, but they were harming others. I was not in the place I am now to handle this with love and deal with the issue and not punish the people. No, they were not safe people, but they deserved more than silence and absence. They deserved a chance to see right and I did not give them that chance. My fear withheld truth and love from them. I have never stopped praying for them. To be honest, I know I left them wondering what was wrong with me and them. This my dear readers, was not only not fair, it was very wrong. I say all of this to not only be transparent but to tell you I don’t always get it right. I have struggled with healing too, despite where I am and where you see me now. I have no idea at this point if I will ever be able to make this right. I pray often about being able to make this right. I hope those whom I’ve hurt by this will be willing to hear me out and forgive me. I can only imagine the hurt I have caused them. I asked the Lord to forgive me for operating in this fear several months back and I know He did forgive me. I have asked for the opportunity, in His timing, to make this right. I will wait on His timing and their want to and ability to speak with me. I hope that time will come soon!
Let’s contrast this now with a response in love, yet also a moving away from a destructive person because they gave me no choice. I did not run from a hard conversation nor did I hide, nor I did not give them the silent treatment. However, I was not responsible for their response nor their choice. Recently I had apologized to an individual because I did not get the full story and came to an unfair conclusion. I was clearly in the wrong and admitted that freely, without any reservation. My apology was sadly, not accepted. This person instead chose to be a victim. In love, I was truthful and up front with this person about some destructive behaviors. I was not mean to this person nor did I call them out in an inappropriate manner. They chose to continue to be belligerent and not listen. They continued in their victim mentality. I ended the conversation, and unfortunately, had to end the friendship as well. It was clear to me that although I cared enough about this person to talk to them about their destructive issues, they weren’t interested in changing. I can’t follow a destructive person, even if I care about them as a friend. I must let them go. I will never stop praying for this person, but I can’t follow them where they are going. I gave this individual the chance to see right and that’s not what they chose. Do you see the difference?
I’ve also had a positive experience because a friend made a different choice when I responded with love instead of fear. I was honest with this person about things I saw in them and that I cared enough to say something. I reminded that person that I still loved them and always would, but I could not and would not control their choices. Again, I did not run from a hard conversation nor did I hide, nor did I give them the silent treatment. This friend chose to listen to me and think about my words. We are still friends and this person is still working through some things. I’ll be there for this person. I’ll respond in love and I’ll still be truthful. We aren’t responsible for how people respond to us, but we are responsible for at least giving them an opportunity to see right and we do that when we respond in love and talk to them and speak truth to them.
As I said in my blog the other day, we don’t have a right to withhold truth from them. Fear withholds truth from people. When we withhold truth, we withhold life.
Responding with fear vs responding with love makes all the difference in the world. When we respond with fear, we don’t give people the chance to see another perspective, see right, and maybe even change their hearts. When we respond in love, we tell people the truth with love, give them a chance to change, and see a different perspective – what they do with that is up to them. They may choose right or wrong but at least they got the choice. Fear takes all choice out of the equation. Love puts choice in the equation. Fear takes friendships away. Love gives friendships a chance to grow, if people are willing for this to happen.
Do you see the importance of how we respond and why it matters? I hope so! I wanted to write and tell all of you about these things, so you don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. Respond in love always! Fear may promise you safety and it may feel safe for a little while, but it will only hurt you and others in the end. Choose love over fear, no matter what others do! Let Jesus’ perfect love cast out all your fear so you may love others and see them as He does! Make the things right that you can and give everything else to God. Love has already won!