How to Kill Authentic Connection

Wow, does she even know what she just said? I don’t think she meant it…but seriously, OUCH! Do I confront her? No. Definitely not. Things might get awkward. I’ll just let it fester until I’m really hurt and hold it against her the rest of our friendship.

I know this is the right decision, but what will she think? She’ll find out eventually, she doesn’t need to know about it right now. It’s going to make things uncomfortable so I’m just going to avoid telling her anything altogether.

Okay, so most of us wouldn’t say these things out loud. But we do them, don’t we? We shy away from having a potentially uncomfortable conversations that we need to have. I see this happening more and more with little things, but with big things too. It’s the tendency to stuff issues/topics down and passive aggressively go on our way. Simply pretend nothing is wrong and avoid the whole unpleasant situation all together. We call it, “giving grace” or being kind, but that’s not actually what’s happening.

Instead, what happens more often is that we hold on to it, silently, and allow it to color every other interaction we have.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying we need to stick our noses out, sniffing for conflict at every turn or discuss every decision at length. Sometimes conflict can be avoided for good reason, depending on the situation. But here I’m specifically talking about those moments when we feel a nudge to communicate with someone, we know we need to, and instead of following that nudge we turn around and avoid them like the plague.

This nudge can happen when someone has done something wrong and God wants to use us to bring it to their attention- kindly and graciously. Maybe it’s because someone has offended us or hurt our feelings and we need to address it. Maybe it’s a decision we’ve made that we know another person will be sad about or disapprove of, so we avoid communicating altogether. Maybe it’s a pattern of behaviors someone has exhibited in the relationship that have been hurtful so they’ve built up for years and need to be addressed but we don’t know where to start.

Whatever the “conflict” in question, the avoidance usually happens because we’re too afraid of what will happen if we approach this person. “What if they think differently of me after? What if we get in a fight? What if it ruins our friendship?” My guess is, most of these won’t happen. And even if they do- isn’t that telling? Don’t we want the type of relationships we can be honest and transparent in? I want my friends to push through hesitation and have these hard conversations with me. I want the chance to enter into a deeper friendship with them, deeper connection, but that won’t happen unless we can talk about the hard things.

When we withhold our voice from the people we care about and choose not to communicate because it might be uncomfortable, we strain and break the relationship even more than if we would have faced it to begin with.

You guys, fear is not a tool the Lord uses to encourage and send his people. If we’re allowing fear or anxiety to lead us, we’re not in line with God’s leading. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to do something because the voice of fear told me it was the wiser choice!

Here’s the thing, we can’t have real, deep, meaningful relationships and never hurt or offend anyone. Even Jesus offended people, because sometimes it was the most helpful thing for them to hear. Addressing the tough issues is part of this whole relationship gig. If at the end of the day we disappoint someone out of our own sin or shortcomings, that’s okay too. Jesus’ blood covers that sin fully.

In humility, we can acknowledge our brokenness, instead of running from ever being confronted by it. Let’s confess it, trust that the sanctifying work of Jesus covers it, and allow him to grow us into better people than we were before. Let’s not rob ourselves of opportunities for growth just because it might be uncomfortable. Let’s not give up on relationships that are rich and life giving out of fear. Instead, let’s press into that discomfort and allow it to make us and our relationships better.