What happens when things start going the wrong direction? Take, for example, conversations. We have a sense of direction when talking with others and can feel them going up or down. What happens when we feel a conversation going down a path we did not intend because the “other” wants to go backward and talk about the past?
- How do we respond when things get tense? Awkward? Uncomfortable?
- Is it fair for someone to ask about our past?
- How do we respond when someone turns the conversation back onto us?
This very thing played out in public this week when Chris Brown, a singer and entertainer, sat with Robin Roberts, one of the hosts of ABC News’ Good Mornings America. If his name sounds familiar outside of his career, it was probably related to charges against him for domestic violence against his girlfriend back in 2009.
Before plugging Brown’s latest album and chart-topping song, Roberts wanted to go back there and check in with him on how things were going. Brown was agitated by the question and sought to avoid the topic all together, saying “I think I’m past that in my life, and am here to talk about the album.” Unfortunately, the past came crashing into the present when afterward he smashed a window and trashed his dressing room, apparently still upset that Roberts would go there with him while on camera.
I offer this not to demonize. It is a reminder for all of us because we have all been there before. We have been the one offended when others want to talk openly about topics we’d prefer to get past or keep hidden. We are fine to talk about the good but the bad is off limits. I highly recommend the book Crucial Conversations on this topic.
Is this okay? Is the closed-off life acceptable? Or is there support in God’s Word for living better together? I find a mandate for mutual accountability in a wide collection of verses of the New Testament talking about life with one another. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing,” and finally James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.”
I believe we have moved too far inward. How are we to grow if no one offers direction? Does all direction come from within? Are we willing to allow trusted friends to correct and encourage us in order that we might grow? According to the Scriptures, God intends to lead us and shape us with the help of one another. This is the abundant life. This is life on the journey together.