Portrait of young woman and man outdoor on street having relationship problems

(Photo source: Dollar Photo Club)

“Honestly? It reads like an IKEA instruction manual.”

My wife Kari said this right after I forced her to listen to 20 minutes of my new “book idea.” I read emphatically, stressing the key words, whispering for dramatic effect—the works.

But it wasn’t working. She shifted around, clearly unimpressed. I thought it was brilliant. She thought otherwise. When I asked what she thought, she shrugged. So I pushed hard to get an answer and was rude in my pushing.

That’s when she dropped the IKEA bomb.


For the record, IKEA is a fine place. But it’s like a labyrinth – once I go in, I feel trapped. To get out, I have to walk fourteen miles through a maze of cheap swag, art-deco furniture and modern rugs with neon colors. After twenty minutes, I panic and run through the employee exits to get out.

Now my writing had been compared to IKEA, the Labyrinth of Doom.

Kari wasn’t being mean, just honest. It wasn’t connecting with her. So instead of forcing her approval, I put it down and went to find my journal. I sat down and read her an entry I wrote about the birth of our twin daughters, communicating a great deal of honesty and fear.

After I read this, Kari didn’t say anything.

But she was moved.

She told me to email it to my agent. Months later, the words became the book, Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart. The book never would have happened if Kari flattered me or kept quiet.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy.”

To hear my writing was like an IKEA product stung a little. But Kari was right.

It hurt, but it helped move me in the right direction.

These wounds – honest, true wounds – are helpful if we let them be. But if we get defensive or don’t listen, we miss the moment.

None of us like to be rejected or compared to the Labyrinth of Doom. But that’s often exactly what we need, lest we carry a sense of entitlement and live under an illusion of grandeur.

Wounds from a friend are valuable gems.

They are more loving than flattery or feigned affirmation. These wounds deserve our full attention. And respect.

I’m grateful for these wounds.

This blog originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.