Today's Unglued Blog Update: The Exploder Who Shames Herself
Another one of mostly my rewording & adding some of my own to what Lysa said. I just think she hits the nail right on the head!
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." ~1 Peter 5:8
This is tough to do sometimes! Okay, it can be tough to do all the time. But it is REALLY tough for me to have self-control & be alert if I do ANYTHING before I meet with God in the mornings. Lysa offers some sound advice: Do not check in with the screaming demands of the world before you exchange whispers with God. When I do, I sometimes take an email, text, Facebook message/status, or any other way the world has contacted me to heart or take something the wrong way. It can lead to my feelings being hurt and to me to be an exploder who would later feel shame for not acting more like someone who really loves Jesus & follows Him.
|She is sipping water|
It's sometimes better to "Sip the shame so you won't have to guzzle the regret." In other words, taste a little bit of the shame of letting it all rip before you find myself drowning in gallons of unwanted regret. Sipping the shame of what would be if I let my raw emotions have their way might help me not explode. And that's good. But I still have some processing to do to make the hurtful feelings dissipate, to deal with my very honest feelings that were not yet very godly. The last thing I want to do is trade my unhealthy exploding for unhealthy stuffing. I must remember the balance between the two is soul integrity where my honesty is godly. What I need now is some God perspective.
Knowing what I need doesn't always translate into wanting what I need. The last thing I want in a moment when I have gotten my feelings hurt is a Bible verse to come marching my way. I don't know about you, but it's hard to pick up the Bible when I feel that way. But Ephesians 6 reminds me that my enemies are not flesh & blood. Ephesians 6:12:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
In God's economy, people don't stand on opposing sides of the conflict scale. People stand on one said & Satan stands on the other. When I dump hurt into someone's life, I am not leveling the conflict scale. I am just weighing down the people side of the scale & elevating the Satan side of the scale. Satan loves it when we do his work for him by dumping on each other.
The secret to healthy conflict resolution isn't taking a you-against-me stance, but realizing it's all of us against Satan -- he's the real enemy. But this is hard to do when all I see is that flesh-and-blood person standing there who, quite honestly, is planted squarely on the last good nerve I have left. Such a moment may seem like the perfect time to see my Christianity on the shelf. But it is hands-down one of the grandest opportunities I have to shame Satan back to hell. A Jesus girl who rises up & unexpectedly gives grace when she surely could have done otherwise reveals the power & the mystery of Christ at work -- in her life & in the world.
That's why Paul ends Ephesians 6 by making a specific statement about words -- how he wants to use them & the impact he wants them to have. After explaining that Satan is our real enemy, reminding us to put on our spiritual armor each day, & reiterating the absolute necessity of prayer, Paul says one more thing:
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. ~Ephesians 6:19
After I remember who the real enemy is -- & that the person who hurt me is not my enemy -- I must carefully consider the words I speak to this person. After all, it's one thing to make the mental shift that this person isn't my enemy, but quite another to speak words that make known the mystery of the gospel. Wow....what a choice!?!?!
Is this easy? OF COURSE NOT! To have any chance at all, I have to develop a strategy in advance for how I will react in situations like these. In advance means I don't wait until I receive the hurtful comment or the shame-on-you email. In a non-emotional, clearheaded moment, I need to craft a response template. Then, on that day when another person decides to get all up in my Kool-Aid with their own raw emotions, I can hold onto my soul integrity. I'm trying to remember not to let my lips or typing fingertips be the first thing that walks into conflict. My tongue is powerful & holds the potential for death & life. So does sending a piercing text or email response. Lysa has developed a response template for when I need a written response; & it can be tweaked slightly & used for face-to-face interactions as well.
1. Begin by honoring the one offended.
This is NOT easy! When my feelings are hurt I certainly do not feel like honoring my offender's words. So I don't honor her words. I need to honor her as a person -- a person God loves. I have to remember that giving honor reveals more about my character than the character of the other person. I need to honor her by pointing out a good quality I know to be true about her. Even if I have to think really hard about what good qualities my offender has, most everyone does have redeeming qualities.
2. Keep my response short & full of grace.
The wordier I get, the greater the risk I will slip into defensiveness. If something needs to be clarified, I need to keep it concise & wrapped in grace. This would look like:
A line to acknowledge the expressed hurt.
A line to clarify my intentions.
A line of gentle honesty about the issue at hand.
And, if appropriate, a line of apology.
A line asking for grace.
Notice these all say a line.
3. End by extending compassion.
Chances are the person who hurt me is hurting for reasons that have nothing to do with our situation directly involving me (more on this in another chapter). For now, why not be the rare person who offers love to this hard-to-love person....but I must remember: DO NOT FAKE IT!
Now, not every harsh email needs a response. I need to ask God to help me know when to deal with it & when to simply delete it. I must also remember not every face-to-face confrontation needs a verbal response either. But when it does, I can easily translate what Lysa suggested for the needed conversation. I just need to keep these 3 points in mind: Honor them. Keep it short & wrapped with grace. Extend some kind of compassion. Honor, grace, compassion...H.G.C.
Whether I'm face-to-face or sending a written response, I do need to remember there is a big difference between a reaction & a reply. Reactions are typically harsh words used to prove how wrong the other person is (& no good comes from this). A gentle reply "turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1). Choosing a gentle reply doesn't mean I am weak; it actually means I possess a rare & godly strength.
I must keep things in perspective. Here's an image of what it means to keep things in perspective: People get freaked out when their cats climb up trees; & in some areas, firefighters get calls about this at least once a week. The firefighter will say, if he has time, he'll help them out, but if he's not able to go, he gently reminds the cat owner that he's never seen a cat skeleton in a tree.
Hmmm...interesting point: This all shall pass. In the end, it's good for me to remember that it isn't my job to fix someone who has hurt me with a reply. That's God's job. My job is to be obedient to God in the midst of my own set of issues.
Lysa reminded me that developing a response template will forever keep me from exploding & then feeling the weight of the after-shame, but it does help me take a more positive step than I would have taken before this journey.
For now, I am to focus on the progress I am making. Thank God for it & pave my journey with grace. Grace for myself when I'm an exploder who shames myself, & grace for myself when I experience the other side of this coin as an exploder who blames others....stay tuned for my next Unglued Blog Update.