Because Nice Is Not Enough: Loving a Friend through Confrontation

Loving a Friend through Confrontation

I check my watch.

My palms are clammy and I pretend to casually smooth my denim skirt in order to wipe off my sweaty hands.

I sip lemon water.

My heart races as I pick up the menu only to put it down again.

The vinyl seat sticks to me.

I shift in the booth and re-cross my legs. My foot begins to bob a mile a minute so I stop to uncross my legs and keep my feet flat on the floor.

I check my watch again. A minute has passed.

Drink more lemon water.

She was late. She usually was. My best friend finally entered and all I could feel was dread. I stood up to hug her stiffly. Could she see how anxious I was? Could she feel the tremor in my hands when I hugged her?

We sat at one of our favorite restaurants, trying to make polite small talk while scanning the menus. Usually we talk deeply about anything and everything but this time was different.

Butterflies in my tummy persisted and fear gripped my heart. I was getting ready to share something.

I was taking a risk. Hoping she could hear the love I have for her in my words and that our friendship would be strong enough to handle this conversation.

After placing our order with the waitress I turned to look my friend in the eye and somehow began the exchange I’d been avoiding.

I didn’t want to say anything to my friend. I wanted to ignore the problem. Yet, I knew if I didn’t speak up the issue would continue and my heart would grow not only increasingly frustrated, but bitter.

Trying to smooth things over by pretending the issues didn’t exist would be false. I couldn’t just “be nice” and hold my tongue.

Ephesians 4:25-27 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

This clues us in on the importance of not keeping offences bottled up and how it is a good thing to remind our brothers and sisters how they can love others better … or love us better.

But the passage shows us the goal of these hard conversations: becoming like Christ individually and as a body. In verse 32 it says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Loving someone comes easier to me when it means encouraging, when I’m serving tea or when giving a gift. But confrontation ties me in knots. I’d rather curl up in a shell and die. But God doesn’t let me get away with “Christianity = Nice.”

I mechanically swallow my food. Holding back tears, I tell my friend how much I love her and how I want the best for her. Because those things are true, I need to share some concerns.

Loving her, truly loving her, meant being honest and speaking things that were uncomfortable. It meant taking a risk to tell her things she needed to hear.

This talk with my friend was pivotal. It was a catalyst that sparked so much change in her. And change in me.

Thankfully, I received a gift unguaranteed in these situations. My friend responded so graciously, so humbly. We shed tears and our friendship was strengthened.

Loving our neighbor means telling them the truth and being tenderhearted and quick to forgive, even as Christ forgave us.

Loving a friend enough to confront isn’t the same as a program of brutal-whole-truth-or-nothing. Nor is it warrant to be unkind and rude. It is in fact the opposite: It is being kind by telling the truth, which is especially hard if you fear rocking the boat.

Sometimes the kind thing is to forbear with someone’s offenses or flaws. But there are those times when the loving thing is to say the hard things. Loving does not always mean being “nice.” Love is about becoming more like God in Christ. It requires dying and pain, suffering and difficult conversations. But ultimately joy.

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Jennifer Napier

About

Jennifer Napier is a new resident of Norfolk, VA where she and her husband are part of growing a new church. Her recent decision to throw all caution to the wind and jump into home schooling all five of her precocious but precious children has left many alternately applauding her bravery and questioning her sanity. She is an avid reader and writer and enjoys long soaks in the tub and sweet iced tea. She can often be found with her children at the zoo, a thrift store or in a doctors office as she manages the special needs of her kids. Though a Christian since she was five Jennifer has continued to grow in a deeper understanding of God’s grace and love. She continues to proclaim God’s faithfulness in the midst of many years of trial, suffering, loss and grief. Her primary goal in life is to know God and make Him known. You can follow her adventures and thoughts on God, life, and motherhood at her blog, Musings by Jennifer


  • “Loving a friend enough to confront isn’t the same as a program of brutal-whole-truth-or-nothing. Nor is it warrant to be unkind and rude. It is in fact the opposite: It is being kind by telling the truth, which is especially hard if you fear rocking the boat.”

    This is a good point, Jennifer. Unfortunately, I feel like I see a lot of rudeness on social media all in the name of “telling it like it is.” While I believe we can be truthful and “tell it like it is” or at least the way we think it is, this is not an excuse for rudeness. This is important to remember in a face-to-face context as well as online ones!

    • Jennifer Napier

      I agree Danielle. In todays age of being able to “anonymously” slam people and dismiss them and their ideas with a couple strokes of the keyboard it’s amazing there is anything gracious being said. My husband and I were just discussing how easy it is to “hide online” and just say whatever you want… I wonder if most people would even make these comment’s to a person’s face. It’s easy to be bold when you’re not right in front of someone. I’m concerned to think though that more and more people would be rude in face to face conversations as well.

      It’s a fine line to discern saying whatever you want and actually having to think through and deliberate sharing with a friend concerns you have about patterns in their life… areas where you’re not sure that they see clearly. It takes prayer and thought and checking your own heart motives.

      It’s definitely harder than just blurting whatever you want whenever you want.

      My temptation is to ignore the the necessary discussions so there’s no discomfort. I don’t want to create pain. I don’t want to take the risk of offending. I’d rather “be nice” at the cost of me becoming bitter by not speaking up when I should. But even when saying the hard thing and having those difficult conversations I don’t think there’s a need to be rude or brutal. Instead sharing and asking questions out of love, humility and a gracious heart that is willing to forgive and also seek forgiveness.

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Because Nice Is Not Enough: Loving a Friend through Confrontation

by Jennifer Napier time to read: 3 min
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