Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
12 Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12, CEB
I began the month with a story of how I learned the freedom that comes from having no defense, and admitting it. When we’re backed into a corner, our first instinct is often to try to defend ourselves even if we are, in fact, quite guilty of something. The point of this ultimately is to demonstrate that we don’t need to defend ourselves against our voices of shame. We can resist without defending because, when we defend, we’re suggesting that there’s something legitimate that shame has to say.
I’m not good at it- but I’m trying to make non-defensiveness a part of my life. Part of this is so that I can learn to resist my own voices of shame. Part of it is just the realization that defensiveness is an unattractive quality in a person. I don’t like it when other people act defensive, so I’ve decided to work on this in myself. It’s a work in progress.
Recently, someone approached me to have a “crucial conversation”. I had (unintentionally) caused harm in this relationship and this person, in an act of friendship, let me know that this had happened. I remembered the incident, and I even remembered why I acted the way I did. I began explaining myself. If this person knows what was going on with me, perhaps it’ll ease some of the pain of why I acted the way I did.
That was not the appropriate response. Why? Because when we’ve caused harm, it doesn’t matter what was going on with us. People rarely care about why we hurt them. They care that they are hurt. When you’re particularly close to the person, like a spouse of best friend, perhaps some of that context matters but, for the most part, people want you to right your wrong. They don’t want to hear about how you’ve been wronged.
In that moment, I failed at non-defensiveness. Instincts took over and I walked down the path of self-explanation.
More on this tomorrow.