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Friday, 19 April 2013

The Words You Should Have Said?

Consider the following; you are the parent of a four year old child whom screams continuously whenever they do not get what they want. As a parent you hate the distress this causes, and you often capitulate. Example two; you are the sister of a person whom is morbidly obese, and the affection you have for them dissuades you from raising the question of weight.
Example three; some of your closest friends are evangelical Christians vehemently opposed to stem cell research or abortion, yet you remain quiet when they wax lyrical about their stance on these matters. And finally, you are the partner of a person no longer making any effort to build or sustain their relationship, yet you fear hurting them and delay the tricky task of raising the issue.
In your estimation, is your lack of response a gesture of love?
Let's consider potential real world outcomes for the above. The child raised without discipline knows nothing of boundaries, and then struggles to adapt to a world full of them. Your overweight siblings health deteriorates in gradual increments over time, reducing their mobility, their vitality, their quality of life. Your Christian friends actively obstruct potentially life saving research into treatments for congenital medical conditions, deeming that the rights of a three day old blastocyst equal those of a teenage burns victim. And then the silent partner, indolent as a relationship crumbles, watching all the warmth and desire deflates from it like air from a tyre.
Still think your silence is a good idea?
I of course take these worst case examples merely to illustrate a greater point. That being; our silence can sometimes be every bit as corrosive as the wrong words spoken in haste. Now I, for my sins, know a thing or two about speaking in haste, and I've said more than my fair share of stupid things down the years. But perhaps you would fare better, and perhaps there have been times when you wished you had said something rather than remaining mute.
You've already got an example in your head, haven't you?
So today I want to issue the following encouragement, laced with a note of caution. If you love people, if you desire their greater good, don't always leave those difficult conversations for later. Have the courage to cross that line, to breach that taboo, even if this comes at a risk. There is, to be sure, a type of person that will respond badly when challenged, and you may be left with initial regret. Yet if regret is unavoidable ask yourself whether you want to regret that which you did say or that which you did not? I don't promise happy outcomes; you might create a real atmosphere. May even change the dynamic of the relationship itself. But by saying those words you'll at least have been authentic. People will know you have invested in them, and who knows, some might make changes as a result. Best case, and just using the examples above, you could have a more rounded child, or a healthier more self aware sibling, or a Christian who's consciousness has been raised, and perhaps a partner waking up to what's at stake.
Worth a gamble?

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