Today began the third week of our study on ‘40 Days of Love‘. Today’s topic was one of the most challenging topics so far! How to have a loving confrontation…to speak the truth in love. I am personally not a confrontational person. I prefer to keep the peace and not rock the boat. But I have been reminded that love is not just about warm feelings or happy smiles. It is also about facing hard truths and being able to impart that to someone else in a respectful but honest fashion.
How does one approach someone in order to tell them a difficult truth? It is certainly a scary proposition. We may worry how our message will be received, what the other person will think, whether we will be rejected or whether the relationship will end. But the reality is that in looking out for the other person, and in genuinely loving them, it may be a risk we have to take. Yes, the friendship may end…but it may also be a turning point for that person by showing them something in their lives that is negative or destructive. Or it may bring the relationship to a deeper level knowing they can trust you to tell them what’s on your mind.
Speaking the truth in love is one of the hardest things to do because we have no control over the outcome. But we can find ways to direct the conversation in a loving and respectful way through our tone of voice, body language, by recognizing our own inherent weaknesses, and by affirming how much you care for that person regardless of the current situation.
Week 3 Challenge: It can be a challenge to confront someone with a difficult conversation. But it could also be a positive turning point for the relationship if done in a respectful manner without being judgmental. Is there someone you need to speak to about your frustration or about their behavior?
Today started off the second week on the series ‘40 Days of Love‘ and it challenged us even more to live a life of love towards other people. Sometimes fear limits our ability to extend love and kindness. How will my actions be perceived by the other person? What if I get hurt? What if this affects my reputation? What if this delays my personal goals? What if this interrupts my plans?
These are valid fears and I have struggled with these at different points in my life. My hope is that we can get to a point where it becomes less about us and our comfort but more about other people. Difficult but achievable!
The lesson gave us 3 take home points to try and put into practice:
Sensitivity: How sensitive are we to the needs of those around us? Do we open our eyes and really observe what is going on with people around us? How is your neighbor, colleague, spouse, child, parent, classmate doing?
Sympathy: Once we have identified a need, how willing are we to engage the person to find out more? How ready are we to listen wholeheartedly without being distracted?
Spontaneity: Once we know the whole story, how willing are we to get into action and do something about it? Are we ready to drop what we are doing? Are we willing to sacrifice and go through some inconvenience to help the other person?
The lesson also drew from the example of the Good Samaritan. It was really eye-opening to break down the story in detail:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead…a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.The next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10.
What can we learn from this story?
The Samaritan saw the need, he sympathized, and he acted spontaneously. There was no procrastination.
He sacrificed of his time, money and even his own safety to take care of a stranger
He used whatever he had with him (wine and oil, possibly his own clothing as bandages) to attend to the wounds of the stranger. Sometimes we don’t think we have what it takes to help someone else but there is always something we can do, no matter how small.
He promised to follow up on the stranger at a later date. Follow-up is important as sometimes a person’s need is continuous and does not disappear in a day.
Week 2 Challenge: Identify a need that you can assist with in your community, work place or school. Again, the focus is not to expect something in return.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18