It’s interesting to see how God leads me along this path. There is order and purpose to the steps even when I don’t see it at first. In the last few weeks he’s been revealing some things to me about myself that I need to own up to. I need his healing hand at work on some dysfunctions.
I had a conversation with a good friend recently in which he told me to be careful not protect people I love from their weaknesses…that it is actually a disservice and not a loving or helpful behavior. I was a little confused but took it to the Lord. “What is he talking about?” I asked God, “Specifically how do I do that, try to protect my loved one in their weakness.” I also immediately wished I could sit down and have a heart to heart with my sister, Jodi, who is very perceptive and good at analyzing people’s behaviors and the reasons why they probably behave a certain way.
Well, I finally got my wish. My sis sent me a buddy pass to come see her and I did that this week, flying out to sunny Arizona for a blissful 4 days with her and her sweet family. We had much time to just sit and talk, walk and talk, drive around and talk. It was exactly what we both needed. We often find, in our visits, that we are learning similar lessons from God or dealing with things in similar fashion. I shared my conversation with her and asked her what she thought my friend meant by me not protecting a loved one in their weakness. She helped me to see that shielding someone from facing natural consequences of their behavior is not really a help. It actually enables them to continue in their weakness and not be motivated to change and grow. A light started coming on….ohhhhhhh.
Then this week back at work my boss had my co-workers and I start reading a book about “crucial conversations” and conflict resolution styles. I saw, after taking an assessment, that my most used style of dealing with conflict is not dealing with it – avoidance. This piggy-backed on what my sister had helped me to see – I am so driven to seek harmony that I’m willing to stuff emotions, hurt feelings, suggestions, feedback, whatever, if I’m afraid it will cause some uncomfortable conversation or tension in a relationship. However, when I do that, I’m missing out on what could be even deeper, more intimate relationships – after working through the conflict and growing stronger together. I tend to seek harmony so much in my family that I may step in and “protect” my daughter from my husband’s frustration or try and shield him from her disrespectful attitude when I should stay out of it and let them work things out. When I expressed to my sis my worry that maybe my hubby wouldn’t know what to say to my daughter or how to work things out she said, “So you think God can’t talk to him and help him figure it out?” Ouch. She’s so right. I’m not trusting when I behave that way. I’m not trusting God to guide me and my loved ones, I’m not trusting my loved ones to listen to me or to God and be willing to work things out.
I’m seeking harmony, but at what cost? I’m starting to think it’s over-rated. I’ve missed out on years of more closeness, more open communication, more freedom from stuffed hurt and frustration, more trust between my family and I, between my friends and I. What am I really afraid of? That someone will get so angry at my honest expression that they won’t love me anymore? That’s pretty silly. Am I afraid of a little tension or raised voices? That’s silly, too. Those things pass away.
It seems beauty and growth always come out of stress and pain, priceless results that avoidance does NOT bring. While I’m sticking my head in the sand beautiful possibilities pass by. I’m still processing it all, but thank God as I look back and see how he’s leading me. He speaks to me through godly friends, through my wise and perceptive sister, through His Word and Spirit.
I want to seek openness, freedom, risky transparency, real love, intimacy, and truth and if harmony happens along the way – then that’s a bonus.