Tag Archives: love

Confronted by Love

Lately I’ve been haunted by the reality and necessity of confrontation in true friendship.

I put a lot of equity in friendship.  I pay it a lot of lip service.  I have always been fiercely protective and loyal to handful of friends in my life who are as family to me as family.  The problem I’m having these days is this:

I hate conflict.  I like for people to like me.  I like for people to be happy.

Except none of those things have anything to do with love, really.

I love my daughters.  I don’t want to fight with them.  I want them to like me.  I want for them to be happy.
Yet, if I see them doing something wrong, I correct them almost instinctively.  I don’t want Lucy to burn her hand on the stove if I can help it.  I don’t want Penny to run out into the road.  I love them enough and am secure enough in my relationship with them to care more about their own well-being than their opinion of me or even their own immediate happiness.

I love my husband.  I don’t enjoy fighting with him.  I want him to like me and my company.  I want him to be a happy man.  But if he is doing something destructive to himself or to me, I tell him.  (Okay, let’s be honest.  Sometimes that’s even hard for me in the safe confines of the covenant of marriage, but usually doable because I know he isn’t going anywhere.)

The conviction comes when I watch friends- men & women whom I deeply love- make poor choices or believe lies or run buck wild and I sit quietly and politely in my ringside seat.

I want to be the supportive, easy, encouraging friend.  I want to tell you to chase your dreams, find yourself, do it your way, go for it.  I want to believe that what you want is what is best for you, simply because it’s what you want.  I want to believe it will all work out for the best and that you can’t screw it up too badly.

Except none of those wants have anything to do with love, really.

Real love not only warns you when you are out of your depth, it comes to get you when you are over your head and don’t even know it.

It says “Please stop doing that.  You are going to get hurt.”

It says “I love you, but you are making a mistake here.”

It says “Your personal choices aren’t made in a vacuum.”

It says “That’s a bad idea.”

It says “That doesn’t sound like the Lord to me.”

The circumstances are endless.  The loving confrontation in any scenario has to come from a place of tenderness and compassion and assuming the best of someone.

To quote singer-songerwriter Derek Webb, “It’s not right or safe to let your conscience down.”

It’s not right or safe to let your friends down because you couldn’t bring yourself to say what they needed to hear.

I Corinthians 13 is always quoted in weddings and marriage books but was never intended to have such a narrow purpose.  It applies to our friendships, to our fellowship, as well.  And if it’s true that love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things then surely hard conversations and potential risky confrontations are covered under “all.”  Surely.

That’s what I’m choosing to believe, anyway.  That’s what I’ll stand on and remind myself of before picking up the phone or stepping into the restaurant or opening my door.  I’ll choose to trust that the Lord will go before me.

I’ll choose doing what is best for my friends over what is easiest for me, because that’s what love does.

I’ve Got a Question.

There is an ongoing joke with the people nearest me about my “spiritual gift” of asking questions.  I love asking questions and the learning that comes along with it.

I am curious.  About everything.  All of the time.

I have way more questions than you have answers for or time to entertain.

If you are around me long enough you’ll be subject to my random questions and come to either find it endearing or annoying, or perhaps both!

If you were to drop into a Renovatus staff meeting on a Tuesday morning, you’d likely witness our team with index cards in front of them answering 5 questions I just threw out to them related to the topic I’m speaking from.

There are many things about leading a team and running a church that do not come naturally to me.  I’m not very strategic.  I’m not process driven. I’m not task-minded.  I like helping.  I like keeping the peace.  Nevertheless, here I am responsible for a lot of people and resources on a daily basis.  Thankfully, the one thing that is instinctive for me is asking questions.

This got me thinking about how asking questions is a really valuable practice.

And because I like lists almost as much as I like questions, I decided to write down a few reasons why I think asking questions is incredibly important and healthy:

1.  Shows honor & concern– When someone asks you a question about yourself or for your perspective, it’s validating.  It communicates respect, interest, and care.  We live in a wildly individualistic, egocentric world.  It is counter cultural and perhaps even counter intuitive to take the time to look someone in the eyes and ask them a meaningful question.

2.  Fosters humility– We often feel the need to know everything (which is silly and another rant for another time) and asking questions reminds us that we can’t and don’t have all the answers.  It acknowledges our need for people and things outside of ourselves, which incidentally, is really helpful at keeping our pride in check.

3.  Creates space for vulnerability, trust and intimacy to formPeople are open to people who are open to them.  It’s amazing the relationships and opportunities that are birthed by curiosity or a well-timed question.  We all appreciate the opportunity to explain ourselves and take ownership of our responses.  Asking questions (as opposed to speaking in the declarative all of the time) often lowers defenses and increases our receptivity to what another person is trying to communicate.

4.  Challenges mindsets and ruts– My dear friend Amanda once said “it’s a spiritual discipline to break your routine.”  I think about that a lot in a number of different contexts.  In this particular one I’d simply say that asking questions breaks us out of our routines, out of our box.  This is a very, very good thing.  We can all think of a time when we were challenged, for better or for worse, by having to answer the question “why?” for doing something the way we do.

5.  Produces good leaders– Your effectiveness as a leader (and maybe more broadly, as a human being?) is correlative to your desire and discipline to learn.  Whether this is in personal relationships or developing new skills at work or picking up a new hobby at home, asking questions is a great way to learn and an easy place to start.  Additionally, asking questions is a great way to help develop leaders around you!

6.  Keeps us open to wonder & gratitude– This is more abstract, but just as important.  Asking questions keeps our eyes open to new ideas, to see beauty in the world, to dream new dreams, to recognize the gifts around us and to be grateful for it all.

Are you seeing all the potential & possibilities wrapped up in questions?!

I know none of this is novel or earth shattering, but hopefully it’s a good reminder of how we can communicate and lead and love one another really well.

Start with a question and see where it takes you.