Only, I wish I had known then, what I know now. I would have grabbed my words right back out of that mailbox!
I needed to confront someone. Or I thought I did. The behaviors I observed were inappropriate for a Christian and brought anguish to my heart when I was around. In my mind, I thought there would be a resolution if I just “brought the problems to light.” So, without further planning or praying, I decided I would I write a letter.
Meant more as a plea to stop what I had perceived as bad behavior, the confrontational letter was never intended to be judgmental. I truly thought it would be read, contemplated, and accepted as truth. Not involving others seemed the right thing to do, so I requested the confrontational letter be kept between the two of us.
That requested was not granted. Not only were one or two others pulled in to do battle on the defense line against me, the attack was hostile and angry. And to this day there is not a relationship. Sadly, that was 20 years ago.
Again, I wish I knew then what I know now because I would have done things differently.
I failed on many levels when choosing how and when to use my words.
I wish I had realized then that accountability between two people is based on their trusting and secure relationship with each other. I would have assessed our relationship better before I made such a bold move to hold someone accountable. The relationship didn’t end because of a letter I wrote. In hind sight, I realize now that it had never begun. Our relationship had always been forced and was unappreciated.
I wish I had been able to better apply the stories that Jesus gave us in His word. Jesus loved others first, then He convicted in love and the people received His message of salvation and were compelled to repent. His stories are lessons for me to do likewise. Because I lacked a relationship with this person, I was not in any place to expect accountability.
I wish I had been more spiritually mature to pray over the situation and not been so easily offended by it. I should have allowed “quiet and confidence to be my strength” (Isaiah 30:15) and to model the love of God.
I wish I had asked God to give me the right words, spoken from my broken heart instead of quoting scripture. Most Christians already know what the Bible says about their behavior. Once I had the right words, I wish I had asked God how to present them in a way that would have been accepted—born out of concern, not judgment.
I wish I had prayed for guidance to approach the person with the right attitude—that of love.
I wish I had known better that God goes before me to establish His will. He prepares one’s heart to understand and ears to listen. He opens the mind to comprehend, and the heart for conviction. I should have asked God to change hearts.
I wish I had better understood the power of God’s timing. Proverbs 27:14 in the NKJV says, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” And Ecclesiastes 3:7 (NLT) tells us there is, “A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.” My message could have been a blessing had it been at the right time. Instead, the person on the other end only heard loud judgment, not the quiet intention of my heart to repent and be happy.
I wish I had realized that I can ask God if I should say anything at all. Not every person will benefit from a confrontational chat, especially if there are other spiritual, emotional, or mental problems standing in the way, the person doesn’t have the capacity to understand, or he is not open a another’s ideas and viewpoints.
Praise God, I learned that I am not responsible for someone else’s bad behavior or attitude. But I am responsible to God for my response to that behavior, whether it be words that flow from my mouth, or any private attitude I keep tucked away from plane view.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”
Today I pray fiercely about how and when to use my words so that I can be an encourager, promoting emotional health. I am not always successful, but I do commit it to prayer.
Now, I pray I have God’s stamp of approval on all my words…written, typed, or spoken.