I Said the Unthinkable!
No, I didn’t use a swear word or rant and rave like a maniac. But, for most of my life I have had people say things to me that took me off guard and I didn’t know what to say in response. Afterwards, I could think of a hundred things I wished I had said but it was too late. Then, just like Kathleen Kelly told Joe Fox in the movie You’ve Got Mail, it happened to me… “I was able, for the first time in my life to say the exact thing I wanted to say at the exact moment I wanted to say it. And, of course, afterwards, I felt terrible, just as you said I would.”
Have you been there?
People today are expressing themselves in ways and on levels they never have before. Social media now allows individuals to toss verbal grenades while multitudes experience the shock waves of their messages within minutes. Once it is released into cyberspace…it is there permanently. There have always been combative bullies that use words to belittle, make a point, or silence a perceived adversary. But, the spirit of this world has orchestrated a new level of hate, mud-slinging, and ugly bickering with massive consequences.
I felt tremendous conviction when I crossed the line by what I said.
As a Christian, I can’t lower myself to this level in response to how others approach me. I am compelled to reflect the love of Jesus. We all are. In these last days, it is very easy to lose sight of what is important, such as our relationship to Christ. When we engage in ugly verbal conflict, the presence of the Holy Spirit lifts from us. In this age of outrage, how can we maintain our spiritual sensitivity and prophetic voice? We need to control our words.
Perhaps these simple guidelines will help us:
1.EXAMINE YOUR HEART
Ask yourself what your motivation is in this conversation. Is it to prove you are right? Are your words necessary? Do you really want what is best for the other person? If what you are about to say isn’t honoring others or could be hurtful, don’t share it. Let love temper your words and posts on social media. I Corinthians 16:14 says: “Let all that you do be done in love.” Love builds a foundation from which you can share Christ, but angry, combative conversations will block any chance of you being a witness. Don’t allow poisonous public displays and media frenzies to fester in your spirit. Pray for those that are using those methods of communication, that God will soften their hearts.
2. DON’T RESPOND IMMEDIATELY
If someone says something to you that ignites your emotions, take a deep breath and pray silently for God to guard your tongue. You don’t have to win this verbal battle to feel good. Knowing you exercised self-control and spoke with a quiet and gentle spirit what God directed you to say is going to bring peace in your heart. “Always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. Anger does not help you live the way God wants” James 1:19-20 ESV. Do we have to say the last word, get in our winning argument, or be frank in our response without regard of their feelings? Proverbs 29:20 says “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Sometimes the best thing we can do is listen and be quiet. Your interest in what they say, let’s them know that you value them.
3. CHANGE THE ATMOSPHERE
Once angry words are spoken, tempers flare and people lose their ability to think rationally. One sharp word evokes another. But, with the Holy Spirit controlling us, we can prevail over our emotions and bring peace. Even in the most hostile situations, attitudes and responses can change when we show compassion and mercy. God reminds us, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” Proverbs 15:1 NLT. You can literally change the atmosphere by your response. At the very least, you can walk away knowing you did not compromise your walk with God and hinder future opportunities to connect with these wounded hearts.
When we do mess up and say something we shouldn’t have said, the only way to correct that is by sincerely saying, “I AM SORRY” to them and to God.
About Ruth Puleo :
Ruth Puleo is an ordained minister, conference speaker, writer, mentor, and serves as the Women of Purpose Director for the Penn-Del District of the Assemblies of God. She passionately seeks to impact the lives of women and girls with courage and inspiration to follow God’s call on their lives. Ruth and her husband, John were called to pastoral ministry for 38 years while raising their three children. The ultimate blessing has been the gift of eight precious grandchildren.