When it’s time to confront hard conversations, rather its with your teenage child, young adult, spouse, or partner it can be very challenging. There were seasons in my marriage, raising my children when they were young and even now, where I have found myself with the same dilemma. It’s a tough place to be in.
I tried everything!
I found, I was going about it the wrong way and it was not effective. Heart to heart conversations are not easy. For me, my way was getting me nowhere. I was very frustrated and at my wits end for years. I talked and talked, but as the years have gone by.
I’ve learned a few things and I am still learning frankly. The bible has a lot to say on the subject and I thought that I would share a little with you.
Only God can Change the Heart
Before I begin, only God can ultimately change the heart of a person. We cannot change anyone with our words. This is not magic or is it psychology 101. It’s just principles found in scripture that work only when applied. God says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. He is the creator and he knows ALL things. I believe he wants us to have growing, loving and fruitful relationships, but the recipe for living is in his word.
Now that the foundation is built, let’s talk.
Have a Mindset to Grow, Love and Trust
I don’t want to talk at you but with you. God has taught me and hopefully it will be helpful to you in some way. First our mindset and goal should be to have a growing, loving and trusting relationship full of honesty and candor.
Begin with Patient and Empathy
We must begin with patience and empathy. For instance, with our teenagers or even young adults, consider that we, like them we’re young and confused torn by all the pressures of the world.
Lessons learned from a sheep, coin and the prodigal son
Luke 15 – gives us some clues as to what our perspective should be before the conversation even begins. Starting with verse one throughout the entire chapter, it’s saying that Jesus taught and ate with “notorious” sinners and the religious folks were angry and could not understand why.
The Lord gave three illustrations to explain why;
- One sheep lost amongst the ninety-nine
- The prodigal son lost and prematurly leaving home.
The Lord was saying, I believe, that they were lost in understanding and maturity.
Additionally, God’s deep love and compassion draws us to him. He leads us by example. A major key in dealing with circumstances that are beyond our understanding. It may not be our experience but surely even if we don’t agree with the decisions, we do need to exercise empathy.
Conversation – Timing, Tone and Tact
Denise Kohmeyer, a writer with Crosswalk magazine gives some advice that I think is helpful for all of us as well. Three points that are easy to remember, timing, tone, and tact.
Ecclesiastes 3:7, says that it’s a time for everything. The time is not when you’re brewing and not thinking clearly. We need to take a day or two to just sit on it, pray about it and then approach it. This does not mean avoid. We may need to postpone, but we don’t need to avoid completely because avoidance, as she suggests has a root of fear and will cause resentment. Of which does not promote peace. It causes unrest and maybe cause a root of bitterness.
When we are facing a difficult conversation is tact. Proverbs 12:18 mentions we do need to be careful about the words that we choose. When we are reckless with our words it will have a lasting effect.
The truth is words do hurt. Begin the conversation with a desire to mend the relationship. Use words that bring clarity not more strife. Think carefully before uttering any words. Although, we are sharing the truth with out any reserve, we can those words gently.
Lastly, for those of who have small children. Speaking softly and tenderly plays a valuable part in communicating with them, especially during tantrums or a meltdown.
Moreover, we should all remember how unfruitful it was when we argued loudly with our siblings. We often learned that we needed to lower our voice and listen more and talk less. In summary, when we scream nobody is listening.
Matter of the Heart
When approaching difficult conversations, it’s a matter of the heart. Let’s examine ourselves, choose love and walk in forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forget, but it does mean we don’t punish. Finally, the admonished us to remember to leave all of that to the Lord, vengeance belongs to him.
Remember, exercising love can be hard but it’s worth it. Love covers a multitude of sin. While we were yet in our sin Christ died for us ALL.
May God bless you and keep you, may his face shine on you and give you peace.