Confrontation is never a pleasant ordeal. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end and it’s certainly not easy to do the confronting.
When we confront others with their sin or communicate how they are hurting us, they usually respond in several manners.
Many will try to minimize the problem. “It wasn’t that bad!” “I didn’t mean to.” “It’s not hurting anyone.”
Others will justify their actions. “You should see how he treats me!” “They deserved it!”
Some have become rather skilled at blame-shifting or making themselves to be the victim. “I can’t believe you could accuse me of that! You’re always bullying me!”
Maybe you’ve even experienced gaslighting. “Where do you even come up with these ideas?” “You’re just making this up in your head.” The person being confronted will say anything to get you to question your sanity.
And then there are some who become completely enraged. They will defend their actions till they’re blue in the face. They may even act out abusively.
If you’re fortunate enough to have friends and family members who respond by listening and understanding, that’s great. This blog is not for you.
For those of you who do have people in your lives who find it difficult to take responsibility for their actions, continue reading!
Let’s say you’re married to someone who is constantly yelling at you and putting you down. These are sinful actions, are they not?
Now let’s say you’ve tried to confront the person to no avail. You’ve tried yelling back. You’ve tried talking rationally. You’ve thrown out Bible verses on being hot-tempered. You’ve had friends and family speak to him. You’ve even been vulnerable and revealed how much the yelling hurts you.
Nothing seems to help. Maybe your spouse stops for a little while and then something sets him/her off again. The yelling and verbal abuse continues.
What do you do?!
One word: Boundaries!
Boundaries are your property lines. They define you like a fence defines a yard. You’re in charge of what you allow and don’t allow into your life. The things that fall within your property lines (your body, heart, mind, decisions, attitudes, reactions, possessions, etc.) are your responsibility while those outside your property lines (other people’s property) is not your responsibility. For more on boundaries, check out the resources below.
Another person’s sin falls inside his property lines, not yours!
Many people wouldn’t consider boundary-setting as confrontation, but it is oftentimes the best form of confrontation when someone fails to listen and respect you. Sometimes boundaries are the only thing someone will “listen” to.
What would happen if you stopped arguing with others about their wrong and hurtful actions and instead set a boundary?
“If you yell at me or continue to call me names, I will walk away.” This gives the other person the freedom to choose what he/she wants. You set the boundary and then you stick to it.
What could be more confrontational than allowing that person to experience the consequences of his destructive behavior? When a person yells at you and treats you poorly, he is creating an emotional distance within the relationship. Sometimes only you can feel this, so you are the one suffering the consequences of his actions. When you hold the other person accountable by setting a boundary, he can see the distance that he is creating.
God pinpoints things in our lives that get in the way of our relationship with Him. Confrontation in its most ideal form is the same–it’s a way of drawing awareness to sin and the things that hinder or block connection in our relationships.
So, instead of you being someone’s emotional garbage can, you walk away and allow him to handle the mess he’s created. The person you are confronting will get angry, so be prepared and read “How Dare You!”
Setting boundaries is also the most loving response. What is not loving is yelling or fighting back, using destructive words or actions as a defense.
It’s also unloving to allow people to continue in their destructive patterns. Plus, by allowing this sin, someone (maybe you) will undoubtedly be carrying the weight of responsibility (hello, co-dependency!).
If you have someone like this in your life, someone who fails to take responsibility for his actions and won’t listen to anyone, perhaps it’s time to confront him with the consequences of his actions. Confront him with boundaries.
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Let me reiterate this: This form of confrontation is for those who do not listen to you or the church. Essentially these people are communicating that they are choosing their own way instead of God’s way, so you let them loose. When verse 17 says to “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector,” it’s important to note that Jesus loved the pagans and tax collectors.
At the same time, though, I believe what this scripture is saying is that your relationship with unrepentant people will be different than those who sin or make mistakes then receive correction and repent. Unrepentant people are untrustworthy and not to be considered our Christian brothers and sisters if they refuse to receive correction.
We naturally need boundaries with those who are not deserving of our trust. There’s no reason you need to continue being the punching bag. There’s no reason you need to continue bailing someone out so that they never take responsibility for their lives. Enabling is not helpful or loving. No one benefits from these situations.
Proverbs 19:19 says, “A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.”
As Christians, our lives are marked by love and grace for others. Just be sure that our love doesn’t manifest in us becoming someone’s doormat and that our grace is not enabling others to continue in their sin.
For more on boundaries, check out these blogs or the following books:
The “Boundaries” series by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
“Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk
“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown
“Rising Strong” by Brene Brown
So good! Realizing that by attempting to smooth over a situation, find a common place of understanding, communicate how the offending action makes you feel, etc. is only providing opportunity for co-dependence or further “abuse” rather than your goal of working to find a healthy balance in the relationship is such a difficult and crucial step to setting boundaries and heading toward a place of healing. This is definitely a good and helpful topic!
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Right. While talking about the situation may work well in healthy relationships, it really does open yourself up to more manipulation or abuse in these co-dependent or toxic relationships.