The phrase in the title above contains a word I use to describe some people. I’m not a gossip, but if I need to describe the way in which someone is acting, I expansive descriptor in my vocabulary. Cockalorum. Pansy. Pudge muffin. Imp. Demon spawn. You get the picture. I’m not afraid of expressing things as they are. Truthfully and accurately, without all the padding in-between.
Speak truth. Says the Bible. It also says to love. Thus, we must speak truth in love. This doesn’t mean beating around the bush made of cotton and clouds when corrective behavior is required. It also doesn’t mean charging at a person with all the bells and whistles of a monster truck equipped for a zombie apocalypse. We must meet somewhere between clouds and chainsaws.
The opposite of love is apathy. Doing nothing regarding another person’s self-destructive actions shows a lack of concern for that person. My best friends are the ones I can rely on to tell me the truth. No matter what. It means these people care enough to point out the error of my ways and disarm me of my zombie vehicle and chainsaws.
I’ve been learning to implement caring confrontation in my relationships. I don’t have time to be politically correct. Life is short. Loving as much as possible is my prerogative. Christ Himself wasn’t afraid to love with confrontation.
Before, I would rarely confront others. If I did, it would sound something like this.
To an imaginary neighbor drinking water from my birdbaths:
“Hey, so, um, it’s kind of sad that you use my birdbaths for drinking water. The cute little birdies will miss their bath time. So, uh, I was wondering if maybe, uh, you could use the birdbath in the front of the house and leave the one in the back for the birds. Only if you want. I mean, it’s okay if you keep drinking from both…”
Now, things would go more like this:
“Hey, I’ve noticed you coming over and using my birdbaths as drinking water. First of all, ew. Second, what are you thinking? What kind of ignoramus would come over and drink water in which feral fowl romp? You’re going to get diseased. I don’t want you to become sick, because I care about you. So, the next time I see you drinking the birds’ water, I’m calling the cops. For your sake.”
Which sounds more caring? I would say the second. It expresses real concern for another person. Even if it seems harsh. If I can help someone find better life balance at the risk of them being “offended,” so be it. I’m not going to waste time in apathy, only loving partially in my relationships. It’s selfish to refuse to stir the pot for another person’s sake. That’s not what Christ calls us to do. He says to love. To speak truth. To speak truth in love.
With loving others as my number one priority, I have found clarity in the discovery that confrontation is caring. Being willing to call someone out, or engage in a conversation when someone is calling me out, has grown me emotionally. If I leave people to their own devices, I’m allowing them to stew in the toxic blindness of self. If those around me leave me to my own devices, they’re allowing me to spiral into self-pity.
If I really care about people, I will equip them with the truth to illuminate their pool of emotional sludge, so they can find the exit ladder. Whether or not they choose to take that ladder is up to them. My only job is to love others and speak truth. Unconditionally.
Speaking truth in love doesn’t involve clouds and cotton. Nor does it require chainsaws and monster trucks. It might, however, include a vocabulary of descriptors to gain someone’s attention. Getting creative to really identify what behaviors need to change. Thus, the expansive, descriptive vocabulary.
The opposite of love is apathy. Don’t waste time loving partially.