“We just need to talk and air out our differences.”
“Let’s just lay our feelings out on the table.”
“I’m an open book. I want people to know exactly how I feel.”
“I needed to vent.”
Step back. Take cover. The outcome of this encounter is not going to be pretty.
All of our friendships are bound to hit a bump in the road. When our feelings are hurt, we feel that we have a right to vent. It feels goods during the moment to get it off our chest while sipping a large chocolate latte’ and recounting the whole saga to another friend. The outcome is a shattered relationship that will heal with a jagged scar.
Anger, hurt feelings, and disappointments come from unfulfilled expectations or assumed intentions.
“If my friend truly cared she would have called me–yada, yada, yada.”
Or, “I can’t believe the way she just walked in and took over the meeting. I know she thinks…blah, blah, blah.”
I experienced unfulfilled expectation one Sunday morning a few years ago. I was struck with a migraine headache, the pain was crushing and I needed to lay down. Chuck was working and the children were already involved in their Sunday School classes. I elected to rest in my car until the service was over. A precious friend helped me out to the car where I fell asleep. After service my children were looking for me and finally found me asleep in the car. My friend had gotten way-laid in conversation and didn’t think to notify my children of my whereabouts. I was hurt that she wasn’t thinking about me. This was clearly unfulfilled expectation. Satan jumped in and I started mentally listing off all the kind things I do for friends–this glory list was lengthy. Later that afternoon as I reflected on the events of the morning I felt entitled to my hurt feelings. The Holy Spirit asked me one question, “Can you forgive her, unconditionally?”
Conflict and differences are the norm. You will disappoint your friends and they will disappoint you–we are human. Resolving conflict God’s way will ensure growth from both gals involved. Our natural inclination is to put the blame totally on our friend. She is the problem. She needs to change. Yet every conflict is two-sided. Think of conflict as a gift from God that causes you to search your heart and draw near to Him. (See Psalm 139:3)
Why did her words hurt me? What truth was in her accusation? Asking God to open our eyes to see how He views our words and actions. It is through humility, the act of removing self from the picture, that His unconditional love can flow through us to those who have wounded our heart. Scripture commands us to be peacemakers, to forgive and move on. Remember, God buries our sins in the deepest sea never to be remembered again.
A quick word study about the tongue reveals God’s thoughts on venting and being honest. Proverbs 17:27,28 says, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” (NLT)
James doesn’t mince his words in reference to the tongue. Loi’s version, “A flappy tongue will get you into all kinds of trouble.” Our words are powerful. Unkind accusations–ask God to erase these from your mind. When these words haunt your memory resist the temptation to mull them over. Instead meditate on things that are true, honest, the best, not the worst; beautiful, not the ugly.
How boring if we all thought the same and everything was done our way. Be gracious, encourage your friends to step out of the box and use their God given creativity. Just because your friends do not think and do things the same way you do it doesn’t mean she is wrong. You might learn something new. Don’t be so picky. Focus on the end results and not on the process.
Friendship is a precious gift from God. We are blessed to have friends from many different circles: church, neighborhood, school, sports, business, scrapbooking buddies, book club, Bible study, tennis team, gardening club, just to name a few. Treasure, nurture and guard your friends of the heart–they are worth fighting for. Let conflict be the stepping stones through the mud puddles of life.
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