One of my all-time favorite movies is called “A League of Their Own”. I love this movie for so many reasons!
It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t a baseball fan, I guarantee you you’ll find yourself loving this movie if you’ve never seen it. The basic plot of the film involves the rise of women’s baseball back in the early 1940s when most men were overseas fighting in World War II.
In that movie, women’s baseball coach Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) is talking with player Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis) over her decision to leave the team near the end of the movie.
Hinson tells Dugan that her time on the team has just come too hard. Dugan’s response is priceless:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
I’ve always loved this quote! The hard is what makes it great. Obviously, this can be applied to most things in life that we deal with and experience.
But especially so when it comes to the difficult conversations necessary for our growth in recovery, our conversations with our children, and our relationships with one another.
In 2022, we’ve been conditioned in large part to run from the hard things in life. The uncomfortable. The painful places we find ourselves.
In addition to running, we medicate and isolate from the things that we don’t want to face. But sadly, avoidance always comes back to bite us in the end.
Because the reality is that we haven’t done anything with the hard. We’ve only tried to pretend it wasn’t there to begin with.
This month, our focus on the blog has been how to have the difficult conversations. This can pertain to a variety of areas: friendships and accountability relationships, spouses experiencing problems with sexual intimacy, and the important conversations we as parents need to be having with our kids.
Thankfully, we have God’s Word to help us figure this stuff out. I wanted to highlight two passages very quickly that I think will help us learn how to have the hard conversations we want to avoid.
1 John 1:8-9: If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Thinking back on the darkest days of my addiction, some of the greatest hindrances to my recovery were avoidance and ignorance. I largely tried to hide my addiction and pretend it wasn’t a real problem, although it was painfully obvious that it was.
For thirteen years, I privately struggled with so much shame all the while pretending I was ok and playing the part of a good Christian. The truth was that I really had no idea how to get free, how to find healing, and how deep the pain went in my life.
I was indeed living out the first part of this verse. You know you’re in a very dark place when your life feels like one big lie.
The problem wasn’t that the Lord was unwilling to forgive me for what I was doing. Quite the opposite, He gave His LIFE so that I might be free and forgiven!
As a matter of fact, in my own ignorance, whenever I would succumb to porn I would always ask God to forgive me. As if the clock restarted.
The turning point really came in my life when I was willing to admit to the Lord that I wasn’t a healthy man. A man of character. A man of integrity.
And when my addiction started spilling over and hurting my wife the way it was, I had to do something. I believe this was the place in my life where my eyes were finally opened to the reality of my behavior.
God had graciously and mercifully forgiven me of every sinful act I had ever committed. But that didn’t mean I was free. In order to find the healing I so desperately longed for, I would need to open my heart even wider to not only the Lord, but to other people.
James 5:16 says: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
In this particular verse, James is writing about the power of our prayers. If we have Christ within us, our prayers carry authority. But before we even enter into prayer, we find another action that carries just as much weight: Confession.
The word confession actually means a “public acknowledgment”, something that is done “freely” and “openly”.
Before healing can take place in our lives, and yes, before any kind of understanding can occur, there must be a commitment to be honest about what is underneath the surface.
And not only does it say confession is necessary, but it tacks on the phrase “to each other”. Don’t ask me what it is, but there is something powerful when I open my life to another person. When I’m willing to reach down into the painful, broken places within me and let others see the real me.
Let me be very clear, if you want to live a surface-level life with everyone around you, this may not be for you. It takes great courage to be honest and to ask hard questions.
Difficult conversations don’t just become easy to have. They take practice and time to get better. I think it could be inferred that one of the guiding principles early on in James 5:16 is transparency.
When someone is willing to live a transparent and honest life, no pain, no hurt, no confusion is too great to be healed.
How do you learn to have difficult conversations with people in your life? Be ready and willing to open up the window to your heart and let others look inside.
Learning to have difficult conversations with the ones you love will never come easy. Most likely, it will require a ton of practice and intention on your part. The point we’re trying to make is that you have to start by making a commitment to run to the hard places instead of running away from them.
If it helps, picture in your mind the police officer, the firefighter, or the military service person. Do they run from the danger because they’re afraid? Not a chance.
Because they’ve already made a pre-determined decision that they are going to put their life, their value, and their comfort on the line for others. They’re protectors and defenders.
There is a courage and a strength about them because they are willing to do what others aren’t. This is the kind of conviction we must have too when it comes to having difficult conversations in life.