I’ve always been one of those who has said that I am more patient with my kids than most, that I yell at them less than most. And granted, that has a bit to do with the miracle of modern medicine, but that’s beside the point. It’s beside the point because I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough. It’s not enough to be able to say that I am usually patient or that I’m usually respectful. You see, it has come to my attention that they don’t necessarily hear, remember, or believe what is most frequent.
Instead I believe that they hear, remember, and believe what seems most authentic. And what seems most authentic? It’s what comes out under the greatest pressure. Sadly, that means that what they may be internalizing is what I say that is most negative—when I’m in a bad mood, when they’ve been difficult, when circumstances haven’t panned out as planned. One unkind word, one hard day, one fight—it can cancel out a month of good times.
How do I know this? Because I’m the same way. I don’t believe your fair-weather words and accolades, if they don’t hold when the pressure is on. It doesn’t matter if we’re friends, family, colleagues. What matters to me is what I believe to be authentically you. What do I believe you really think about me? How do I believe you really feel about me? That is what I will believe. The question becomes what to do about it. I think what we do depends on whether we are on the giving or receiving end of others’ words.
As a speaker and actor, the Bible has a lot to say about how WE should treat others:
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Likewise, when it comes to the words that others speak to, about, or over us, the Bible tells us that we should find our worth and value in what GOD declares to, about, and over us.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
“Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on Him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:15
“The battle is not ours, but God’s.”
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So, in either case, perhaps the first step is to begin by meditating on HIS words, and by letting those become the inpouring and outpouring of our hearts.