When Fight Is Right

speaking head for blog

The idiom, “it takes two to tango”, is often used to imply that if a relationship is rocky, both parties are to blame. That sweeping assumption is false in many circumstances. Apply logic to it and it falls apart.

In some relationships, one party chooses to dominate, bully, deceive, betray or manipulate the other. Must the responsibility for the resultant rocky relationship also rest on the innocent party? If the victim raises objections, is his or her “fight” deserving of outsiders concluding, “it takes two … “?

Not when this is happening …

A person on the receiving end of mistreatment finds himself alone, judged, confused and wounded. Beyond the clear wrongs done to him, he is up against mind games. He is being indulged by the person he is deeply committed to. That person is just nice enough, giving enough, seemingly-essential enough, to keep him from leaving. Once his ongoing presence is secured, they knowingly, willingly, unconscionably return to mistreating him. They repeatedly sabotage the relationship, while he amps up his desperate efforts to salvage it.

Simply put, one person brings destruction to the relationship and the other puts all his efforts into cleanup and rebuilding. Devotion to the relationship in those conditions is difficult to comprehend for those who would walk at the first swing of the destructive hammer.

A highly tolerant and committed person understands it. He doesn’t give up quickly. He truly cares. He wants the relationship to work, and knows if some things change, it can work. If only a few right choices are made; if only a changed mindset occurs; if only the wrongs stop, all could be well together.

He hears of others’ success stories: Sometimes destructive ways are replaced by righteousness. Sometimes staying in an ignoble situation someone else caused, is made right by staying — the wrongdoer is influenced to choose righteously. Or the person reaping havoc is his child — he won’t walk away from his child.

And so he stays, committed, fighting to help the wrongdoer, and determined to salvage the relationship the other is hellbent on destroying.

Do his efforts always look sweet? Hardly. If a loved one is throwing himself in the fire, so to speak, he will bring out every tool he has to object to their choices. Because he cares. He is invested. He wants them to live righteously and have an outstanding character. The more committed he is, the more tools he’ll use, even the fiery ones if forced to, to discourage a person determined to harm himself or others.

But this is critical: The communication tools you use must always be in truth, acceptable to God, and justifiable for the situation. If there is no certainty of your safety, or of God’s approval of your behavior, abstain from confrontation. Get close to God; know his will; learn his heart; let him have yours. There will be no righteous “win” for the relationship if that doesn’t happen. Don’t go near wrath unless you’re so yielded to God that his Holy Spirit is doing it through you.

Some people can commit such extreme wrongs, that those in their lives who are still committed to them are forced to respond with equal strength. And when he does, even though his actions may be blameless before God, and of God, others may catch a glimpse and wrongfully presume, “It takes two … Both are arguing, so both are wrong.”

He knows better. Optimally, he’s secure enough to disregard the ignorance of those who judge without knowing.

For those on the outside who briefly witness his battle, consider this: How can he deal with cruelty, rebellion, deception, betrayal, or abuse with sugary “Jello and pudding” encouraging words? Ponder this extreme example: What a tragedy that Hitler was approved of by those in his life, when he might have been stopped early on had he been met with vehement disapproval. Should support and encouragement have fueled that fire?

Sweet support is for fueling what is good. Fiery vehemence is for stopping what is evil.

A committed, caring person doesn’t give up on relationships quickly. That’s a good thing. Even if, in the end, the relationship dissolves and each goes their separate ways, he will always know he did everything he could to salvage it.