Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
After a few months of marital bliss, during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow.
The strength I had so admired in Dan now seemed like stubbornness.
His ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing and sometimes even meddlesome.
What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to control me.
It was time for the execution of my foolproof plan of transforming my husband into the man God and I thought he should be. Unity was the last thing on my mind. The results were painfully disastrous.
Arguments over insignificant issues ensued as we battled each other for control of the relationship. Dan fielded each attack, confused and bewildered by the mysterious change in his wife. Every area of our marriage suffered, and we were both miserable. Thankfully, my husband was committed to me, I was committed to him, and we were both committed to God and to our marriage.
I will never forget the afternoon he confronted me in love and with amazing patience. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember the words that broke my heart and saved our marriage. “Honey, I’m not sure what is going on between us. But I do know that I want to love you like you need to be loved,” he gently explained.
Boom! And there you have not only the recipe for a successful marriage, but for unity in relationships as well.
I loved Dan like I thought he should be loved, with my requirements and my human expectations, hoping that he would have to do all of the changing while I did all of the controlling. I had a lot to learn about the art of confrontation and how it brings unity, peace, and joy to any relationship.
The highest goal for every relationship is unity. The apostle Paul was committed to unity and peace, no matter how impossible it might seem. Such was the case at the church of Philippi, a church Paul established, a church Paul loved.
His heart and life were at Philippi, and his closest friends and deepest relationships were with these people. It caused him great pain to discover that there was division among them and is writing the letter both as an encouragement to confront the ones causing the division and as his own letter of confrontation as well.
In his letter, Paul describes the unity God expects to be exemplified in relationships. “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 2:2, NIV). Impossible! It is impossible to meet these standards in every relationship.
To be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and in purpose are the characteristics of deep, abiding relationships forged through layers of time, shared experiences, and habitual choices.
God calls us to never be satisfied with anything less than these standards when it comes to the way we love each other. It is a calling that can only be realized through the power of God. It requires a complete and total surrender of our personal agenda in every relationship we have.
Many people love a good fight and often mistake combat for confrontation. The two are not the same thing. Combat slowly corrodes and splinters while confrontation is an art that – when done correctly – improves and strengthens relationships. The success of any confrontation depends upon understanding the difference between the two.
Confrontation is a gift we bring to every relationship. Being willing and able to confront in love is a mark of maturity and stability in the Christian life.
Father, I confess that I often fail when it comes to being a true friend. Teach me how to nurture the relationships in my life through healthy confrontation. May the friendships in my life honor and please You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you been silent, refusing to correct a friend or loved one because it was the easiest thing to do? Are you now willing to become a vessel through which God can work to bring peace?
More from the Girlfriends
Controlling anger is an important part of any healthy confrontation. Mary’s book, You Make Me So Angry, will help you learn how to control your anger.
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