“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6
There it goes. I’m a sensitive person, it may not seem like it but I am. Over the years, I have been hearing truths about me that I never liked, since when I was a child. From a scold of my mom or my dad, they are not seemingly pleasing to my ears, because it hurts me. It hurts my head. It hurts my pride. But along the process of growing up, I thought, getting hurt by people doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t love you. It’s because they do – they care for you, they want you to learn and outgrow this particular habit, and they want you to mature as a man and a woman of this society.
We live in a world where harsh words come fast like racing cars from left and right and there’s nothing we can do but either fight against it or swallow it.
Honestly, I could be one of the people on your list to have the greatest ego especially when hearing things that triggers my inner lawyer-wanna-be. That’s it. I am plainly too critical, judgmental and rational – as it tells me that those my strengths too from one of our assessment in school. Yet, every strength has also a downfall to it. I can tell you plenty of stories about being rebuked or corrected and I swear the combination feeling of being humbled and humiliated is the worst.
A year ago, I was having a catch up with one of our pastors in church. And casually, he asked how I am – in school, in the ministry, in my family, and in my relationship with God. Expectedly, as pretentious as we could all be, I reply “I’m good. Everything is well.” Unfortunately, he knew me for the longest time. In short, I couldn’t say things and fool him around. The truth was, everything that he asked me about, they were all reversing my life around. I couldn’t really sort out anything how to pick myself up. I started ranting and telling him stuff and how all these things were pieces of crap because it ruined me. Humbly he asked, “may I speak life to you?”
I thought he was going to literally speak life or pray for me or tell an encouragement out of the circumstances I was in. But there I was, stuck – in hearing his corrections as I hear reports from other people about me.
Wait, what? No. It’s impossible. I’m not like that. These words were echoing in my head as he conversed with me. I couldn’t believe I had to hear those sharp words because I knew, even at to that point, it was true. I just couldn’t accept the fact I have wronged. Thank God, our pastor told me those in his softest and meekest manner he possibly could.
It didn’t stop there. Right after the catch up, another batch of issues arose and I had to face them probably six months later. The piled up issues with matching confrontation was the worst. I hate dramas. I couldn’t finger count how many times I actually went to his office and talk about these issues bothering me and facing it with “required” humility, because it hurts. It exposes my wrongdoings, my mistakes and I felt so embarrassed to the point I didn’t want to show up. I felt he was fully disappointed with me.
Many of us would surely feel the same way. Often times, we’d like to be the ones who are right and prove others wrong because it makes us feel like we’re the strongest among all and no one can replace our position at the moment. But the reality is, we need to step back from time to time and check ourselves if we’re still on the right track.
We mistakenly believe that it’s important to have your defenses right, when it’s really all about the heart issue. No matter how this could lead us to right judgments, if our hearts aren’t overflowed by love, then what we’re being defensive about is in vain. More than our ego, it’s the relationship that matters. And dropping our ego is the hardest. Yet if we are compelled by the love that humbles us, we are given the grace to give way. And to be able to do so, we need people who can lovingly rebuke us.
I realized that if my pastor never told me these things I needed but didn’t want to hear, I’d probably be the same person I was a year ago. Today, I found friends whom I gave freedom to correct me when I’m wrong or when my decisions are just not pleasing to God anymore. I found people who freely tell me in love that I have offended them. I found people whom I can be accountable with because I cannot do and live this journey called life alone. And constantly, I’ll be needing more of them. Wisdom is truthfully priceless. We’ll learn more as we receive impartations and rebukes from these people who can walk every season with us.
And I believe that it applies for everyone of us. We need people who are willing to hurt us with the truth, not because they are happy to see us cry over the hurt they’ve caused, but because they believe that we are better and bigger than the wrong decisions we are making.
Honestly, in my realistic self, I’d rather be hurt with the truth than to be comforted with a lie. It may take a bit of a time to accept it, but it takes a lifetime to believe the seemingly “truth” and finds out you’ve been living in foolishness caused by deceptions. And we all know this, but I am in high hopes that we are brave enough to have accountability partners and real friends who are willing to wound our ego for the betterment of our being.