I was talking to a friend of mine and in the course of the conversation it became clear that she had some serious concerns about one of her friends. When it was my turn to talk I said, “How did your friend respond when you brought your concerns to her?” There was a long silence then she finally said, “I haven’t said anything to her.” As we continued it became clear why - she was afraid that the friendship would be damaged or lost.
It is a sad, and common, fact that those who know us best, often don’t talk to us about things we need to hear because of fear: fear that a relationship will end, that our motives will be misunderstood or that there will be some kind of retaliation. There are real risks, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step up and do the right thing and speak the truth in love. You and I can eliminate the risk for others if we have a deliberate attitude adjustment when we are called out, and remember the words of Proverbs 27:5-6, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! 6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” If a loved one comes to us and gives us feedback that is painful, or hard to hear, we should choose to value it as an opportunity to learn and grow! Of course, not all feedback is accurate, so the trick is to employ the “Supermarket Approach”. In the supermarket there are all sorts of items on the shelves that we look through as we decide which ones to buy. When it comes to painful input from others, we should listen, honestly evaluate and then accept what is good for us, even if we don’t like it.
Another idea is to regularly invite those around us to give us feedback, and when they do, accept it with humility and not be defensive. Another Proverb supports this, “So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” Proverbs 9:8-9 (NLT)
Lord, help me to accept and appreciate the pain that helps me!