Whether it’s from our family members or friends, pain can come from anywhere at any time. It causes scars. It causes tears. It causes unshed thoughts that build up within like a stone wall created to protect our hearts. But that wall will harden. And harden. And harden. It will freeze the heart of the beautiful girl who is hurting within, and as it builds up over time, eventually it will crush her spirit. If we harbor ill will toward our offender, the ripple effects of our unvoiced hurt will end up causing greater damage. That pain eventually becomes anger, and that anger spills over into our other relationships, maybe even causing us to become introverts or to settle into deep, dark depressions. Anger will harm you, your relationships with family and friends, and even your relationship with God. But don’t worry! There is hope. It’s called conversation.
What I mean by “conversation” is that in order to voice our hurt, we must indeed voice our hurt. Every situation is unique, but I believe sitting down face-to-face and having an honest talk can truly help mend the hearts of both the offender and the offended. It’s not as scary as it seems…trust me. I’ve been there. Here are some techniques to help you voice your pain clearly and accurately so as to be truly heard.
1. Have a third party present. Sometimes as teens, we might say one thing, but the other person might interpret it another way. Having someone you trust, like your mother or another woman you are close to, can definitely help as you voice your pain. She’ll know the true condition of your heart and what the goal of your words are. Also, as a trustworthy adult, she will be able to clarify what you are trying to say in an effective way.
2. Organize your thoughts. In order to be persuasive and perceived in a way that is clear to the other person, writing or mentally organizing your thoughts is very helpful before sitting down to talk. Go through every situation that has ever caused you pain by your offender and write down how you felt and what you wish the other person would have done to help those moments go down better. Being prepared will give the impression that you are organized and collected, regardless of how tremulous your insides might be feeling.
3. Kill ’em with kindness. God says in the Bible that a harsh word causes wrath, but a gentle word drives away anger. Speaking kindly and articulately to the person will give the conversation a better chance of ending well than if you are stern and loud. Take time to acknowledge the other party’s feelings and perspective, and instead of trying to “counter” their opinion, gently share yours and what was truly going on in your heart at that moment. Trust me! I’ve tried it, and speaking with kindness works waaaay better than speaking with wrath! That doesn’t mean you have to cozy up to them and coo and caw, though! Speaking with a soft smile and gentle voice is all you need to set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
4. Establish an end goal. Before you even set a date for your conversation, consider what you hope to get out of the talk. Do you want you both to reconnect and become best chums again? To pour your heart out and know the full story? Or is your motive to get back at them and lash out? Knowing what you want at the end is essential. Our goals should be in line with what God says in the Bible—to speak kindly, not hold harmful motives and to stay centered in God. If your motive even holds a hint of negativity, talking it out might not be the best option for you. Best case scenario, you both will walk away feeling content—not necessarily BFFs again, but rather satisfied knowing your opinions have been voiced and you know the full story behind your exchange.
Now that I have shared the things that have made a significant difference in the end result of my talks, I hope that you will really take time to think these things over and try to work out whatever problem you are facing. And regardless of the end result, know that God is in control and all things work together for your good!