The first, most important commandment in the Bible is to love God with all your heart. The second largest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). God crafted two of the largest commandments in the same scripture verse because they truly go hand in hand. You cannot love your neighbor until you love yourself…and loving yourself happens when you love God first (which I will go into detail another time). While it’s easy to love our perfect God, love towards your neighbor comes with challenges. It starts with relationships, and sometimes relationships can go sideways through hurtful words or behaviors. As God’s children, we need to learn to confront our behaviors to honor these relationships, so here I have whipped up my personal secrets to steer you towards successful relationships.

1. Ask: Is your heart in the right place?

Do you feel overprotective of your feelings? Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed? Are you more concerned with saving face than saving a relationship? Is pride or ego in the way? Do you want to “get-even”? On multiple occasions, I put up these walls of defense, and it’s not until these walls come down is where I see breakthrough in my relationships. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. This is where God’s strength is shown in your perfect weakness. And perhaps why we often call it a “heart-to-heart” conversation.

2. Determine if it there is a need for confrontation.

Authors of Crucial Conversations recommends taking a step to examine your goals. Ask yourself what do you want for the relationship?  What do you want for yourself and the other person? Depending on how small or large the battle, is it better to forgive and move on? Or do you need to start a crucial conversation? If the plan is to start an open dialogue, be at peace with the outcome. There are seasons where God will prune; He  will either weed people from your life, or He will shake an opportunity to grow you. Either way, remember Jesus’ words:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ” John 14:27

3. Do not think of it as confrontation

But rather an open discussion. The dictionary definition of “confront” means face to face challenge where two parties have opposing ideas. In almost all cases, you must retrieve their story. What was their intent? What was the background? The enemy will sneak into our thoughts, causing us to over-analyze many situations and to ASSUME intent. I discover when I openly communicate, most people never had ill will towards me. In other situations, if I need to confront a loved one regarding their behavior, I’m reminded of a verse out of Proverbs 27:5:

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”

And an infamous quote:

“Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind”

Trust that your friends will be happy you ever said anything!

4. Never do it over text!

Ninety-three percent of how we communicate is through nonverbal cues, such as tonality. A smile over the phone supersedes a smile over text anyday! ‘Nuff said.

5. Repent anyway.

My husband and I once started getting into a heated debate over workshop lights he purchased at Costco. He accidentally dropped a light on the floor while carefully placing it in the cart. In my haste to order food for my hungry son, I ignored the light and walked away. I did not drop the light, nor was it my light to retrieve. From my husband’s perspective, I was in closer vicinity and should have respectfully picked it up. In Craig Hill’s book You Don’t have to be Wrong to Repent, he stresses the importance of someone’s identity…even if we feel we are right, it’s wise to repent anyway. In this case, I unintentionally cursed my husband’s identity by making him feel like his stuff was unimportant. God’s grace reminded me of this and I repented immediately.

6. Discern proper timing.

High roller coaster emotions has regretfully hurled me into some major word vomiting. Let’s avoid it. Take time to release these emotions to God before having a conversation. On the other hand, purposely giving someone silent treatment sends passive aggression signals, which can lead to resentment later on. I admit, I have given my husband the silent treatment for a week, and by the end of the week, not only was I more resentful, I forgot why I was upset! Make it your goal to resolve issues as soon as possible.

I hope I was able to ease your way with these helpful, Holy-Spirit led tips.

In all things, search God and He will make your paths straight.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

Yours Truly,

Patty Tower