It’s a proverb I’ve read a hundred times. Read and probably blew past. A few weeks ago it caught my attention and hasn’t let go:
When offenses come your way, and they most certainly will, you’ve got a few options.
- You can climb up into your well-armed castle, pull back the bowstring, and shoot flaming arrows and hurtful words. Continuously. Because you’re mad, hurt, maybe even a little scared and all you want is for the ‘offender’ to back the heck up.
- You can bolt quickly away from the ‘offender’ into your castle and promptly slam the iron gate. Because you’re mad, hurt, maybe even a little scared and you’d rather pretend that things are fine, that you’re not bothered.
- You can relent from your unyielding attacks. You can stop hiding behind impenetrable gates. It’s time to take a walk into the garden courtyard of your castle, take a deep breath of fresh air and say a prayer, and invite the ‘offenders’ to share a cup of tea. Now’s the time to talk things out, to be present in the conflict and honest about what hurts you.
As you consider your relationships — which ones are you the most unyielding in? Those are the ones that are begging for restoration and today’s the day to start moving towards it.
Make that call. Send that e-mail. Write that letter. Put the kettle on.
Make it count.
My friend Jess sent me an awesome post about friendship from Keri’s blog and the timing couldn’t be better. She says, “In Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, Paul David Tripp tells us that ‘Our relationships have been designed as workrooms for redemption, not shelters for human happiness.'” It’s convicting because I’ve wanted happiness over wholeness in friendships more times than I’d care to admit.
One of my dear friends and I hit a bit of a rough patch in our friendship this past summer. It was messy, frustrating, confusing and it wasn’t getting any better.
We weren’t clicking or having transparent conversations with each other, mostly we just tippy toed around pretending that things were fine, all the while stewing inside. Our lack of honesty was causing a rift.
It wasn’t until we both ‘fessed up’, put our thoughts, offenses, and pain on the table that we saw traction towards restoration. Honesty, acknowledgment of each others’ thoughts and feelings, and some heartfelt apologies was the only way for us to move on. Healing came as we uncovered another layer of compassion and understanding for one another.
While I’ve seen the healing that comes from ‘talking things out’, I also believe that space is sometimes necessary in certain circumstances.
Maybe you need some time to realize that you’re contributing to the problem just as much as the friend or family member. It could be that the other person isn’t quite ready (or absolutely doesn’t know how) to smooth things out just yet. Maybe they need some time to soften and grow or you need a moment to craft an apology and think things through. Take some space and time but be sure to circle back to it.
There are also toxic people in this world that will only ever bring you down. You may try valiantly to make things right but but end up shattered and wounded from the interactions; sometimes it’s best to move on and set strong boundaries.
Below are the questions I asked you to ponder last week. I’m sure you’ve thought about them and now I encourage you to do something with your answers. Reach out, however difficult it might be, and take a step towards making things right.
- Who do you need to be honest with [and what about]?
- What hurts and offenses are you carrying? Who has made your heart weep?
- Who do you need to forgive for the sake of your freedom and peace?
- Is there someone in your life who needs a sincere apology?
- What friend or family member might need your attention and care? Care that maybe you’ve been withholding because you’re frustrated about something.
Make some muffins, share them with a friend or family member and foster an authentic conversation. Please know how brave I think you are for taking the first step towards freedom and restoration, and know that you’re not in this alone. I have my own friendships to mend as well.