"The Wounds of a Friend Are Better Than the Kisses of an Enemy."
-Proverbs 27:6Very early in my Christian life at university I was told that great value was gained in reading the Psalms and Proverbs, trusted that advice, and began to read them daily. The Proverbs seemed to offer wisdom, which I wanted and knew I lacked. To help me remember and ponder key points of wisdom, I memorized some that struck me. Early on the above uncomfortable proverb forced its way onto my list as it seemed like something that would be good and important for me to learn. Being of an extreme conflict-avoidance tendency, I applied it in a very selfish way that avoided conflict. I told myself that since this proverb was true, then whatever uncomfortable or painful teaching, criticism, or correction a friend gave to me, it was good for me and was a blessing from God. Simple prayers helped me embrace this proverb, at least in that one direction. "God please help me remember that all painful words are blessings to me. And help me welcome all criticism as friends sent from your hand of grace."
After more than ten years the Lord began to get my attention that it was time for me to take seriously my need to be a good friend to others. Though I had welcomed their wounds kindly, and knew that discomforting words were a two-way street, I had been almost completely resistant to speaking uncomfortable words to other saints to help them grow in grace. Fortunately I have been under the authority of His grace the subsequent 25 years, experiencing His delight and patience as He has urged me to trust Him in this. Foot-dragging and baby steps seem to be my feeble responses so far.