Confrontation, clothing, and shame

Confrontation comes easily to me.

Confrontation easily lends itself to words that fall too soon to unsay. Words that will ring in ears for a lifetime. Words that are the opposite of God’s clothing.

I want my clothing to be this:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~Colossians 3:12

But it’s often not.

In my desire that the person with whom I disagree would “see the light,” or “stop hurting people” I take a stance, build a case, and press in like a lawyer. Others may have a different playbook… exploding in anger… meltdowns… other ugly behaviors.

But my playbook is simple… stew and brew and then go cold and calculating… memorizing the details of my closing arguments in the courtroom.

My uncle was a prominent defense attorney for many years. Family members say that I take after him in personality. He seldom lost (or so I’m told). I’ve also seldom lost a confrontation. People sense this, and avoid locking horns with me.

I’ve driven harmful neighbors from neighborhoods; I’ve confronted abusers; I’ve taken on upper management to defend employees from injustice. And I’ve won.

I often win because I’m right, and a good lawyer. Often, later, I realize I was wrong. I just won because I’m a good lawyer.

Winning has never brought me joy.

Winning brings me deep melancholy. And a deep sense of loneliness.

Shame.

I think I know why.

To confront and to win, even when I’m right, is antithetical, at least for me, to the peace of Christ ruling in my heart. It’s the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in a unique way for me.

Confrontation drives out the peace of Christ from the garden of my soul.

And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3: 14, 15

My desire to confront and “win my case” comes from fear that people would hurt me or others. My fear expresses my unbelief in the truth that “God works all things together” for our good and His glory.

Fear drives me to win before they hurt God’s creation.

My fear says that me, and others, have the power to derail God’s perfect plans.

It says that God is at the mercy of what we do or say.

He’s not.

So please hear my heart:

Confrontation… being right… making my case… winning… these are all forbidden fruit to me. Words will be said that sway the day… and then drive God’s love from my heart.

Pray and trust that Christ will sow seeds of faith to replace fears within me.

In dark hours
Of confrontation
When words may fall
Too soon to unsay
Don’t mistake them
For my true meaning
They are measures
Of my shame.

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