The simple truth is that if you haven’t been told you’re wrong in a long time, you probably have no real friends. And you might not be a great friend, either, because everyone’s too scared to tell you what’s really real. But even then, it’s uncomfortable and icky and awkward, and if you ever get to that place of rebuke and honesty, there will be a space of tension where the friendship hangs in the balance. Yet true friends are willing to risk the friendship out of love for each other, because being a friend is not a fun-filled fantasy where it’s all giggles and games. Friends also sharpen one another, to be our truest best selves, that we might move forward to greater joy.
Of course, there will be an initial emotional reaction. There will be dumb rationalizations and a sudden list of “Well, what about you.” And I hope you can push past this. I hope you don’t take it too personally. Every creature has an instinct of self-preservation, and if you call me out, I will naturally fight back until I feel safe enough to let my guard down. The only thing we can do is to endure the scratching and stumble through those first reactions, and maybe we can move past this part a little quicker each time.
I also don’t mean we call out everything that bothers us. There’s plenty to just let go. I don’t mean we become behavior-police or try to catch a slip-up all the time. Sometimes it’s not your job. I’ve been there, and that’s not friendship either. Being accountable is nothing without love and vision, and if you have a self-satisfying relish when you rebuke, you’re not in it for your friend, but yourself. None of this is about ultimatums or “getting things off my chest.” It’s because I love you too much to stay silent.
I hope we can pursue rebuke, to pursue truth. I hope we are not only surrounded by yes-men and glad-handlers and kiss-ups. I hope we are not overly sensitive to spiritual surgery. I hope you can run through my overreactions and get to that core inside, where you believe I can do better, and you sincerely do love me. I hope you will hear my heart breaking.