>Tough Love Fail?

randomlychad  —  January 24, 2011 — 6 Comments

>Slap my Bitch Upphoto © 2006 Kevin Ciesielski | more info (via: Wylio)

Yesterday, I tried some “tough love” on a longtime friend. He didn’t take it so well. I guess I can see where’s coming from–maybe he’s feeling like I’ve kicked him while already down. I honestly don’t know. With him, I’m treading waters deeper than I’m equipped to navigate. You see, my friend is bi-polar.

For a long time now, there’s been an easily discernible pattern: despite the depression, other heartaches, losses, and suffering from chronic pain, he’ll tell me of how God is blessing, meeting his needs. Other times, he wants to end it all. The cycle repeats.

Yesterday, instead of encouraging, instead of handling his heart with kid gloves (as I had in times past), I misstepped, accusing him of attention-seeking. But I doubt that’s case (it could be, but not being a professional, I’m way, way out of my element). It’s all too deep for me. Maybe I lashed out because I didn’t want to hear it anymore? And what I mean by that is that I care deeply for my friend (I have never met a man more Job-like in his sufferings–any depression I’ve suffered seems so garden-variety in comparison), and it grieves me to hear of his pain. I’m literally at a loss for words. Whatever comfort I think to offer somehow feels false, rings hollow to my ears.

So yesterday, I didn’t try comfort. I tried to be tough, to be strong for him. What I heard back is “maybe you’re not the friend I thought you were. I won’t burden you anymore.” It grieves me that I hurt him, but time will tell if I did the right thing.

Right now, I’m doubting it. Maybe I need to be tough with my own heart, and tender with those of others? Or maybe I need to be tender with all hearts –including my own? It seems that I do the wrong thing at the wrong time–repeatedly. Thus goes the cycle.

Is there any truth to the that old song? Do we (sometimes) need to be “Cruel To Be Kind?”

Let me know in the comments.




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Words of truth spoken with grace and love can be powerful. Words spoken out of anger can cause lasting scars. I guess it depends on the situation and the relationship that exists.

    • It's never exactly an “either/or” is it? Maybe I failed to be graceful, or perhaps season that grace with a little salt? There's nothing I can do to change my friend's circumstances (well, I mean I can pray), “fix” his condition. That's hard.

  • Diana~

    Though I have been ill for many years and am entitled to have those [now & then] pity parties for myself…. I don't. However being ill has put a new perspective on my life and those of others. You'd think I'd be more understand or empathetic to others when in fact… it has been the opposite. I get either angry or frustrated when others complain to me about their “Woe Is Me” attitude about something so trivial in their life. When in actuality… there are far more serious concerns compared to a 'broken nail' or a chronic cough that wont go away. There are children at PHX. Children's Hospital with grave illnesses that walk the corridors with an IV in their tiny heads, fighting for life with chemo or radiation and you're complaining about your broken nail?? Seriously? That is why I get so angry. And yes, i have been [not so nice] when someone is complaining about their smalls problems compared to real legitimate problems. (Including my own) So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I have been in your shoes and yes… I have felt a bit sad about how I approached a friend in my tone or choice of words. And yes they too have said… Well i wont tell you my problems anymore. But in the end… we've overcome the argument at hand, and up or it was a 'kick in the butt' for them to realize that maybe I was right in my point of not complaining about trivial things but to look for the Blessings in their life instead. Don't be so hard on yourself. maybe you did some good after all.

    • Diana, thank-you for sharing some of your story, and for the sage advice. I'm hoping I did indeed do some good; time will tell.

  • I'm in a situation like that right now with a good friend who I had to have a 'tough conversation' with. It grieves me that the relationship isn't what it was in the past -- praying for reconciliation and that they next time we do have a conversation about the situation, I do extend more grace.

    • Dustin, that's what I'm hoping for, too: an opportunity to extend grace. Have you read Mike Foster's Gracenomics? Highly recommend it. Thanks for sharing your comment.