by Fr. Peter deSousa
God loves us and welcomes us to return to his loving embrace. He is the Father whose eyes are always on the road, waiting for his prodigal son to return so that he may celebrate the homecoming with a banquet. He did not have to confront his wayward son with a gentle reproach. His patient waiting and not giving up his belief in his son was enough to bring the boy back home.
Thank God we have such a loving Father who welcomes to return to him. Even though he wants us to return, he does not force us. We have to return of our own free will. One of the important factors that prevents us from receiving forgiveness is our own lack of forgiveness towards those who hurt us. We may seek revenge or act as the injured party. In the measure that we forgive, we will be open to receive forgiveness. We will be judged according to how we judge others. If we condemn, we are condemning ourselves. The Gospel calls us to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful. Let us consider carefrontation.
Intimates hurt each other more than strangers. We expect a blood relative or someone whom we have loved or helped to be kind and understanding towards us. They should make allowances for our weaknesses or at least put up with us. There are many who act pious but who live together as strangers, because they have built up dividing walls to protect themselves. There is no real intimacy in such homes. There is no God either, if there is no love and acceptance of each other. Where there is God there is love. There is fear of confrontation because the other may be angry or counter accuse one. Care-frontation works. Try it.
Because we want to love each other as Jesus loves us and because we are both human and weak and can hurt each other,we need to carefront each other. We want to remove the blocks in relationship so that we may live in love. We want to knock down dividing walls and build bridges of understanding and acceptance. We can only do this with God's grace, so we both need to pray constantly for this (Here are some points from notes of Fr Patrick D'Mello)
We need the humility to face the truth. My spouse places before me the truth as she sees it and invites from me a response. I do not carefront my spouse in order to change him, but to give him the information he needs in order to change. The decision to change rests entirely upon the other. I truthfully and humbly share out of love, how his behaviour affects us or the person himself. Fears about confrontation. Which are yours?
- Fear of hurting self and others?
- Afraid of getting into trouble?
- Afraid of taking the risk?
- Fear of taking the responsibility?
- Afraid of being confronted in return
- Fear of change?
Mine is a fear of hurting myself and others. But we are speaking about carefronting, not confronting. People may have tried confronting and it did not work because of
- the way they confronted;
- the other was not ready for it;
- the wrong attitude; or
- the wrong approach.
Principles of carefrontation
- See if the carefrontation has a fair chance of being successful.
- Do not carefront about something that cannot be changed e.g. a physical defect, caste, creed or family background.
- Not when you or the other person is emotionally upset
- Not if you have a poor relationship
- Not in public.
- Make sure you have the right motivation
- you want to help the other
- you care for the other
- you want to improve your relationship .. and not teach the other a lesson.
- Carefront on your own behalf and not on behalf of others.
- Don't save up carefrontations and cash them all at the same time. It may prove too much for the other. Keep carefrontations in the present. Avoid a litany of past mistakes.
- Adapt your feedback to the capacity of the individual to absorb it.
- Leave the ultimate decision for change to the other. You cannot demand change from the other
- Stay friendly. Be gentle (no blaming, no judging)
How to Carefront
- Let your tone of voice and manner of speaking be gentle and respectful
- As far as possible, begin with the positive - his strengths, assets, resources.
["Dear, I admire your care and concern with which you cook, clean up and look after us." Not: "You nag, scream and are very rude."]
- Use "I" statements and express your feelings. ["However I want to point out a couple of times when I felt hurt recently. I felt upset when you corrected me in front of the children."]
- Describe specific behaviour (not the person). ["You shouted at me in front of the helper and neighbours."]
- Describe the consequences of his behaviour on yourself and others. ["When you pulled me up in front of others, I felt embarrassed, slighted and upset. I did not want to accompany you to the meeting."]
- Do not label others - "You are rude" - but refer to a specific behaviour. ["I noticed yesterday that you screamed at us in the Church compound after Mass."]
- Do not blame or condemn ["You are horrible and crude"] but express your feelings ["Yesterday I felt mortified when you shouted at us."]
- Be tentative and not absolute about your views. Use words like: perhaps, maybe, I am wondering, it seems to be, your way of seeing things is only your view. Give the other person a chance to clarify, explain and carefront you.
- A useful formula for carefrontation is, "You say you (are not bothered) ... yet what I observe is (you clam up and clench your fists)". In such a carefrontation between intimates, you do not judge or condemn, but offer data for the person's consideration.
How to face confrontation and make it carefrontation. Confrontation often leads to a defensive reaction, which usually takes the form of:
- fight (counter attack);
- flight (denying the truth of what is said); or
- justification (defensive behaviour)
Which of these three is your pattern?
To avoid such patterns in the person you carefront, try the following:
- Invite feedback - even negative feedback
- Listen to feedback attentively with an open mind, whether it has been asked for or not. Do not become defensive and do not attack.
- If feedback is given in very broad or general terms, ask that it be more specific
- Feedback reflects only the other person's perceptions and views. So take what is valid and forget about the rest
- Separate yourself from the feedback.
|You have committed a mistake||but||you are not the mistake
|You failed||but||you are not a failure
|You told a lie||but||you are not a liar
Carefrontation enhances growth when it is motivated by care and concern for the well being of the other.
Matthew 20:20-23: A Mother's request
Matthew 21:23-27: Jesus' authority
John 8:3-11: The Adulterous woman
Matthew 20: 8-15: Workers in the vineyard
John 4: 7-24: The woman at the well
Perhaps this will help families, religious communities and people who work closely together to carefront each other. This could lead to forgiveness and true repentance.
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