I’ve never met a single person who has maturely handled rebuke. Not a single one. Including me.
I don’t blame them. It’s hard to hear the awful truth about yourself.
When men rebuke each other, they will make millions of excuses and logically try to justify themselves and find ways to say “You’re no good either.”
When women rebuke each other, they will scratch each others’ eyes out and declare the friendship over and find ways to say “Remember that time when you also ___?”
I’m sure there’s overlap here and I’m probably being mean. What I’m really trying to say is: When rebuke happens, expect melt-downs, flip-outs, childish tantrums, tons of backpedaling, and an ugly look into the self-justifying human heart. It’s not pretty. No one ever likes being told they’re wrong, especially when they’re wrong, and we desperately claw to protect our ego-fortresses because being wrong feels like death.
But we need this. We need to push past the initial hostility of our overreactions. Some of us need to die. It is a good death.
Because sometimes, just once in a while after a messy rebuke, you get surprised when the mature person comes back. They want to hear you again. After the inevitable awkward weirdness when there’s silence for a week, your friend returns: because maybe there was truth to what you were saying after all.
Maybe your motives were to restore this person and not tear them down. Maybe they discovered you were brave enough to put the friendship on the line to say the hard thing, and that you yourself didn’t get any benefit from telling the truth. Maybe not everything you said was correct: but there was even 1% in there that needed to be heard with full conviction.
Maybe they’ll see you’re a real friend, and all these other flattering yes-men are just fakes.
We occasionally surprise each other and learn that friendships are not fun little fantasies built on the shoddy scaffolding of entertainment and hormonal highs: but there is a deeper wellspring, a furious love that cares about the future of the other person and will push you out of the way of a bus, even if it’s a hard shove to your head. It’s a love that knows when enough is enough and it’s time to stop the shallow games and quit the fake laughter and maybe grow the hell up a little bit.
I hope you have a friend like this. Someone who with tears in their eyes and a trembling voice can simply tell you with grace: “You were wrong. The way you handled this, what you’re doing to yourself, how you treated that guy, the choices you’re making: I can’t pretend this is okay. I love you and I would die for you and you mean everything to me, but you’re wrong.”
Please be willing to hear this. Go ahead and flip out and melt down: but come back around, because this rebuke could save your life.