Belt Sanders and Brooms: Speaking the Truth in Love (Part 2)

24 11 2009

There were three major things Kathy and I learned to begin to resolve conflict right in our marriage. Our old conflict resolution patterns were destructive and leading us toward divorce. If we were going to learn to speaking the truth in love we needed to do three things:

1. Getting Honest With Yourself

Speaking the truth without love doesn’t work. I would act like a belt sander saying things in an abrasive way. Verbal jabs, sarcasm, powering up, slander, self-righteousness became my natural response. My words would leave sand paper scars on Kathy. The hard truth is people who speak the truth without love often end up with revolving door relationships because they abrasively push people away.

Being loving without speaking the truth doesn’t work. Kathy would act like a broom and sweep the problem under the rug. Cowardice, avoiding, ignoring, TipToe around conflict, enabling became her norm. The hard truth is people who love without speaking the truth often end up with shallow relationships because they’re afraid of the conflict that will result from being honest.

2. Stop Focusing on Changing Them

David starts Psalm 139 by focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong, but by the end he courageously looks at what he needs to do to change. He prays a high risk prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-4 The truth is it’s a lot easier to deal with other people than it is to get on my knees, and say, “God Deal with Me! Expose the dark parts about my heart that are not fully yielded to you. Acting as a Belt Sander or a Broom isn’t just hurting my spouse, it’s hurting me and most of all it’s offending You, God. Bring all that junk into the light. Expose it to your power and your grace so it can be changed by you.” We’ll never resolve conflict right until we get serious and ask God to deal with me!

3. Get Serious about Allowing Christ to Change You

BELT SANDERS: If your tendency is to “speak the truth, the next step is to listen love and affirm your spouse. You may be a black belt in speaking the truth, but you’re a white belt in love. Respond slowly, stop talking and start listening. When I’m abrasive, I’m hurting deeply the one I love the most. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” Ephesians 4:29. Did my word this week build up or tear down? Did I speak gently and tactfully? What can I do AND say this week to affirm to let them know I deeply love and care for them?

BROOMS: If your tendency is to “be loving,” the next step is to risk their rejection and speak up. You believe that if you speak up, you’ll make it worse. Keeping quiet isn’t helping; it’s hurting. Proverbs 10:10 says “Someone who holds back the truth will cause trouble. But the one who openly confronts works for peace.” Tell yourself conflict is not bad. It’s not a crisis, but an opportunity for growth. Where am I holding back? What do I need to say? The only way to deepen intimacy in a relationship is through conflict. Speaking up will strengthen the relationship.

“CONFLICT” SERIES continues @ Epic

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