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Carefrontation

God loves us and welcomes us to return to his loving embrace. He is the Father whose eyes are always on the road, waiting for his prodigal son to return so that he may celebrate the homecoming with a banquet. He did not have to confront his wayward son with a gentle reproach. His patient waiting and not giving up his belief in his son was enough to bring the boy back home.

Thank God we have such a loving Father who welcomes to return to him. Even though he wants us to return, he does not force us. We have to return of our own free will. One of the important factors that prevents us from receiving forgiveness is our own lack of forgiveness towards those who hurt us. We may seek revenge or act as the injured party. In the measure that we forgive, we will be open to receive forgiveness. We will be judged according to how we judge others. If we condemn, we are condemning ourselves. The Gospel calls us to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful. Let us consider carefrontation.

Intimates hurt each other more than strangers. We expect a blood relative or someone whom we have loved or helped to be kind and understanding towards us. They should make allowances for our weaknesses or at least put up with us. There are many who act pious but who live together as strangers, because they have built up dividing walls to protect themselves. There is no real intimacy in such homes. There is no God either, if there is no love and acceptance of each other. Where there is God there is love. There is fear of confrontation because the other may be angry or counter accuse one. Care-frontation works. Try it.

Because we want to love each other as Jesus loves us and because we are both human and weak and can hurt each other,we need to carefront each other. We want to remove the blocks in relationship so that we may live in love. We want to knock down dividing walls and build bridges of understanding and acceptance. We can only do this with God's grace, so we both need to pray constantly for this (Here are some points from notes of Fr Patrick D'Mello)

We need the humility to face the truth. My spouse places before me the truth as she sees it and invites from me a response. I do not carefront my spouse in order to change him, but to give him the information he needs in order to change. The decision to change rests entirely upon the other. I truthfully and humbly share out of love, how his behaviour affects us or the person himself. Fears about confrontation. Which are yours?

1) Fear of hurting self and others?
2) Afraid of getting into trouble?
3) Afraid of taking the risk?
4) Fear of taking the responsibility?
5) Afraid of being confronted in return
6) Fear of change?

Mine is a fear of hurting myself and others. But we are speaking about carefronting, not confronting. People may have tried confronting and it did not work because of

1) the way they confronted;
2) the other was not ready for it;
3) the wrong attitude; or
4) the wrong approach.

Principles of carefrontation

1) See if the carefrontation has a fair chance of being successful.
 -Do not carefront about something that cannot be changed e.g. a physical defect, caste, creed or family background.
 -Not when you or the other person is emotionally upset
 -Not if you have a poor relationship
 -Not in public.

2) Make sure you have the right motivation
 -you want to help the other
 -you care for the other
 -you want to improve your relationship .. and not teach the other a lesson.

2) Carefront on your own behalf and not on behalf of others.

3) Don't save up carefrontations and cash them all at the same time. It may prove too much for the other. Keep carefrontations in the present. Avoid a litany of past mistakes.

4) Adapt your feedback to the capacity of the individual to absorb it.

5) Leave the ultimate decision for change to the other. You cannot demand change from the other

6) Stay friendly. Be gentle (no blaming, no judging)

How to Carefront

Confrontation often leads to a defensive reaction, which usually takes the form of:

  1. fight (counter attack);
  2. flight (denying the truth of what is said); or
  3. justification (defensive behaviour)

Which of these three is your pattern?

To avoid such patterns in the person you carefront, try the following:

  1. Invite feedback - even negative feedback
  2. Listen to feedback attentively with an open mind, whether it has been asked for or not. Do not become defensive and do not attack.
  3. If feedback is given in very broad or general terms, ask that it be more specific
  4. Feedback reflects only the other person's perceptions and views. So take what is valid and forget about the rest
  5. Separate yourself from the feedback.
    You have committed a mistake but you are not the mistake
    You failed but you are not a failure
    You told a lie but you are not a liar

Carefrontation enhances growth when it is motivated by care and concern for the well being of the other.

Scripture Reflections.


Matthew 20:20-23: A Mother's request
Matthew 21:23-27: Jesus' authority
John 8:3-11: The Adulterous woman
Matthew 20: 8-15: Workers in the vineyard
John 4: 7-24: The woman at the well
Perhaps this will help families, religious communities and people who work closely together to carefront each other. This could lead to forgiveness and true repentance.