Does someone you love struggle with a life-interfering addiction or emotion problem? When you try to talk to them about the situation, do your words seem to bounce back at you, as though they’ve hit a brick wall?
For example, picture a man behind a brick wall, becoming trapped as he continues to lay bricks that build the wall higher and higher around him. In his mind, each brick is a way to defend himself. In reality, though, the wall is trapping him, not defending him. Denial has blinded him to his real condition.
In his book Caring Enough to Confront, author David Augsburger uses the term “care-fronting.” This communication technique combines love and caring with confrontation. Caring confrontation can chip away bit by bit at the wall of delusion that hides reality from a loved one. Doing so helps identify the reason why they are spiraling, and offers an answer to turn their negative spiral into a positive direction. When you are able to avoid anger and replace it with caring, then confronting a loved one with the truth can actually be the most loving thing you can do.
A dear friend, Connie, told me how she “care-fronted” her husband early in their marriage during a volatile situation. Instead of angrily confronting, she crafted a loving letter that detailed their issue and its effect on her and their marriage. She left the letter on his pillow. That evening, when he came home from the office, it was his custom to go upstairs to change his clothes. He was able to see her letter and read it in private and take it all in. He thanked her “for the very good letter,” which led to working on solutions for his problem.
The bridge needed to get over or around a wall of denial needs to be built on a caring mindset, which is best derived from a growing relationship with God. From there, we can shine His love and care to our struggling loved one. As God’s love grows in us, His forgiveness helps melt the hurt we feel from our loved one. In addition, His perspective allows us to see that loved one through Godly lenses so that real care and real love can flow from us to them.
Today, make a commitment to confront your loved ones and speak the truth in love. However, avoid an approach of anger or condemnation. Instead, help people tear down their walls of defense, brick by brick, by helping them see themselves as they really are – someone made in God’s image that He loves and sent His son, Jesus, to die for. God wants to use you to deliver that message, by first modeling it, and then confronting others with care.