The Agony of Avoidance
We’ve all been there. We’ve got that nagging feeling that something bad is going to happen. We know we’ve got to take action but dread the conflict. We’d rather die than have an honest conversation because we know the hostility we’re going to unleash. Problems won’t kill you; failing to deal with them will. Yet we avoid them, ignore them, and pretend they don’t exist. In short, we are willfully ignorant. We placate our problems with prayers yet make no real effort to engage in any type of corrective action which can lead to true healing and full restoration.
You cannot move ahead until you deal with the issues at hand. Life isn’t a self-cleaning oven where you press a button, come back, and wipe all the dirt clean away. If only it were that easy. We think we’re being kind; yet being too overly relational is not being gracious, it’s being selfish. We avoid dealing with issues because of our ego. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we are constantly either self-promoting or self-protecting. The longer we wait, however, the more toxic the situation gets; until one day it goes septic and kills a relationship, an opportunity, a business, or a loved one.
There are certain things in your life right now you can’t ignore anymore. Looking the other way will make you blind and ignorance is most certainly not bliss. Of all the heartaches in my life, I saw 99% of them coming and did nothing, until it was too late. There’s a big difference between being a Peacekeeper and being a Peacemaker. That’s why Jesus only blessed the one. Peacekeepers are pacifiers, enablers who seeks to minimize conflict. It’s a false sense of security and an inauthentic toleration. In short, no one is happy, just stuck in a sickly status quo. Peacemakers have the courage and character to honestly accept, openly confess and intentionally address the underlying causes of conflict. They take action. They know there is no lesson learned until a behavior is changed.
I recently read a book titled, Making Peace, by Jim Van Yperen. Although written to address church conflict, I would highly recommend this read for any secular organization because human nature is universally flawed and egocentric. He shares four types of avoidance by well-meaning people that only make the situation worse:
- Passive Avoider: You suffer inwardly and remain silent. Maintaining the relationship is of supreme value so you hold secrets and cover up the truth.
- Evasive Avoider: You avoid contact and talk to everyone EXCEPT the person you have an issue with. This is classic passive aggressive behind the scenes manipulation.
- Defensive Avoider: Confront them and you’ll be their target. Their modus operandi is self-protection and personal gain. Uses the “I” word a lot. Heavy on the victim mentality.
- Aggressive Avoider: It’s all about power. The best defense is to attack first. They will threaten lawsuits to vindicate their actions. Eager to fight and get payback.
It takes courage to confront these destructive tendencies in ourselves, but with that comes the realization of what it’s costing us and those around us. The worst thing we can do is nothing. When we realize how our avoidance is actually making it worse, we can adapt and have those honest conversations that will make it better. When we realize that selfishness is at the root of our avoidance technique, we can see how we are withholding things others desperately need. And when we realize that our avoidance may cause us regrets that will last an eternity, we can develop an action plan and do what we know needs to be done. The temporary pain we feel in confronting is nothing when compared to the heartache we’ll certainly face in avoidance.