Have you ever heard the saying, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?” The longer I am alive, the more truth I find in that statement.
There is so much value and worth in caring for someone AND in feeling cared for. Because care holds so much worth, it can feel devastating or hurtful when you don’t feel cared for. When a person is messing up or in sin, they are in a very emotional and sensitive state. In those moments more than ever, they need to know that those around them really care about them and want to see healing in their life. When a person is messing up, the last thing they want to happen it to be called out. Calling out can mean so much more than a scolding when it is done in love. Even more so, when it comes from someone they know loves them and has always been there for them, it’s hard, but it can come with a lot of healing down the road. When it comes from someone who was never active in their life or never seemed to care about them before it can be very damaging.
Most of the time when people reach out to you in correction, they have good intentions and mean well. In the moment, they probably do genuinely want the best for you. What they may not see, however, is the fact that they have never reached out before so the common feeling is, “who are you?” Many thoughts come to mind when someone who has never reached out before does:
“You have never taken the time to get to really know me before.”
“You have never reached out to see if I was ok before.”
“You never invited me into your home before and you’ve never even said more than a few sentences to me before”
“You’ve never shared moments of your hardest times in your life but you want me to just open up to you and tell you all my pain and hurts and mistakes??”
It’s hard enough sharing with people we know love us, but when someone who seems to have no interest in us unless we make a mistake or post on Facebook, reaches out- it SUCKS. If you only reach out to someone when they mess up, please don’t expect them to hear you out or let you in. Correction without relationship voids everythingyou say. No matter how good and valid your intentions are, you are adding to the burden and that is the last thing they need to move forward.
Now, I am not saying that the person who is messing up isn’t at fault. BUT if you have never been there for them before- it’s not going to go well. Correction without relationship can hinder any relationship ever being established. No one likes to be backed-up into a corner or likes to feel attacked, but that is what correction without relationship feels like. It is easy to say “well that’s their own guilt”. Yes. I am sure they do feel guilty, but isn’t that what we are trying not to do? Our job isn’t to add to the guilt-it is to help restore when we have the relationship present to do that. If our motive is not restoration, what are we doing talking to them in the first place?
I have had two big moments in my life where I made wrong choices and was messaged by acquaintances. I know that they both meant well, and I think they genuinely wanted to help and be there for me. In the first circumstance, when the acquaintance reached out to me I wanted to tell her off. She had never been a friend or a role model in my life before, and all of a sudden it felt like she wanted to be. I ended up just ignoring her in the moment and choose not to text her back. I later addressed the situation with her. The second time this type of circumstance occurred, I definitely felt the security even though we were not friends. When I first heard from her, I was very grateful and felt very safe. I felt grateful until the weight of not really knowing her surfaced inside me. She knew something so deep about me, and she didn’t even really know me outside of the present issue. The simple fact that we didn’t have a relationship turned her reaching out into somethings painful and scary for me. It felt like she only reached out to me because I was going through a tough time. The fact that we were not really friends made it hard to trust her or open up to her. Receiving care for someone in a moment of pain is hard when you have never felt care from them before. I know her heart was in the right place but because my heart was so damaged at the moment it was hard for me.
When you are dealing with the guilt, shame, self-regret, and other negative feelings, the last thing you need is correction without relationship. One thing that I have learned is sometimes there is more power in prayer than in conversation. Pray for them, fast for them, and trust that they will come around and hear out the people in their lives. Think about the time you made a mistake and how you would feel if that was public knowledge to someone you did not have a relationship with. The same grace you needed is the same grace they need. Please don’t give up on them or put a time limit to them coming around. Trust that God will have the final say and he will be the one to bring them back. In the meantime, let’s build relationships with those around us. Let’s not wait until someone messes up to get to know them. Make timeand build relationships.You never know how it will bless your life and someone else’s.