I looked at the text message in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how insensitive and hurtful they were being?
I don’t know who made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t ever hurt me.” Either they had nerves of steel or they lived on a deserted island with no other people. Because not only do words hurt me, but they make me want to fight back and be mean, too.
Have you ever had a little situation with someone where you just knew you were right and they were wrong? Or at least you could make a really good case for your side of things?
Oh how I have this burning need to state my case in these kinds of situations. It’s like an inner attorney rises up desperate to defend my rights and get the other person to see things my way. This is pretty normal, right?
Yes. But normal doesn’t always mean good. Especially in light of today’s key verse.
Colossians 2:6-7 reminds me, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (NIV 1984)
I should live rooted in Jesus’ teaching and overflow with thankfulness. The opposite of this is when I’m rooted in self-centered opinions and overflowing with grumbling. I need to let God show me how to see things from this other person’s side and gain a different perspective. In doing so, I will be strengthened and taught.
Colossians 3:12-14 reminds me, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (NIV 1984)
My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.
Finally, Colossians 3:17 reminds me, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV 1984)
Everything I do and say tells a story of who I serve. If I act out of anger and spite, I give in to the ways of the enemy, spreading his darkness. If I honor the Lord with my actions, I serve to further the Name of Jesus and spread His light.
At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things.
I processed the text message mentioned above with my husband. He said something that brought much clarity. “Lysa, you know when you’ve taken the high road, God blesses you. You’ve seen these blessings over and over as you’ve made choices that honor God. So choose a blessing today and save yourself the emotional turmoil of trying to prove you’re right.”
He’s a smart man.
I know this isn’t easy stuff. I’m having to live it in the midst of feeling hurt. But I’m also feeling more at peace being able to see another perspective—a healthier perspective—a biblical perspective. And I’m really excited about the blessings that are surely coming my way.
Whether right or wrong, learning to control our reactions is sometimes difficult. In Lysa’s new book, Unglued, she shares personal experience and scriptural wisdom to help us make healthy decisions with our reactions. Click here to order your copy today!Leave a Comment
Thank you so much for this post. I’m struggling with a family member who has said and done some incredibly hurtful things to me.
“My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things.”
This was incredibly comforting to hear. I too feel the need to “defend” myself against this person and call forth an army of witnesses to prove her wrong. But that’s not what God calls me to do. Thank you for your perspective. I so appreciate it.
Thank you for this beautiful blog. You have him specially written for me 🙂 I would think about it and struggle to get also such a wonderful attitude as you. I am hurt by my parents in law. I’m angry. But God’s way is different. I pray now for a loving attitude. But it’s hard. Thank you for this blog.
Amy Hunt says
That emotional turmoil is the feeling we have when we aren’t obedient to the call of gentleness and love. Such an important reminder today, Lysa.
Timely post as my “insensitive” experience came in an email. I wanted to immediately pound out my response stemming from hurt feelings. My wise husband told me to wait to respond. The next morning, by God’s grace, my response glorified Him. Had I not waited, my emotional, self-centered response would have brought more pain than healing. Thank u Lysa for this reminder!
Lysa, thanks for so much goodness packed in here. Maybe this sounds strangely, but I especially like that you included this: “But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns. Sometimes, as Christians, we mistakenly believe that loving means being friends with everyone–and that’s simply not possible. Sometimes, allowing access is unhealthy, even destructive, for one or both people involved. Happy Monday!
I’m glad Lysa included that too. While we are called to practice compassion, kindness and love that doesn’t mean we must condone bad behavior. If God directs we can speak truth in a loving encouraging manner, not out of an angry bitter, vindictive heart.
I can say amen to both of you. Sometimes allowing the destructive behavior of others in my life is the unloving thing!! Kindly speaking truth is an opportunity for my growth and for theirs.
Yes! That paragraph really was encouraging. Sometimes it so hard to realize that to forgive someone does not condone what they did nor does it mean we have to give them a free pass to do it again. Thanks, Lysa! It’s all a learning, growing process in our walk with God.
This is a very encouraging post. I like that you say “It isn’t my job…” I recently used the same language to explain to my son why another mom wasn’t being nice to me. Trying to really live it is a little harder so I’m very excited to read your book! I just reserved it from my local library. Thank you!
Thanks so much! I’ve been working through these same issues and verses lately. A statement I heard earlier this year that goes along with what you said is, “It is better to be kind than right.” Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. God honors our obedience to him.
“…offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” These words are what make real godliness possible. So difficult, yet so do-able because of grace.
Ouch. I think my toes physically hurt after this one. I am really struggling with this right now in a situation I faced this weekend. I failed. And I am struggling to forgive others who have not just hurt me, but absolutely crushed someone I love and care about. Thank you for this post. I am going to have to read it a few times more…
Beth Coulton says
Oh Lysa- my inner attorney approached the bench way too ferociously last week and in a very ungodly manner as I tried desperately to get a family member to see it “my way”. I used language I never use, and completely embarrassed myself before this family member and God. Turns out my way was way wrong, and theirs was way right. I learned a valuable lesson – I am not always correct!
I am not sure why I am such a right-fighter, but when my back is up against the proverbial wall, it’s the only time in life I get really stupidly ugly. I am now going to listen more, and listen to understand and not only to respond. (I read that somewhere last week and it resonated with me). Thanks for this- it speaks to my very soul!
Wow, I am thanking God this morning for this post as I was also dealing with a text message and felt at the end of my rope with how to deal with this any more. You expressed how I feel so well…I do have an inner attorney just ready to pounce and defend…so thank you for the reminder to “go higher”.
Your email this morning could not have been more timely for me! I was soooooo angry about something a coworker had said …. but more so the entire attitude of their whole department, and was all ready to lamblast them with both barrels….. And then, I opened your email. Hello! Reality check! Thank you for being obedient and posting what God had given you. You are right — it is certainly not an easy choice to make. My flesh still wants to throw a hissy fit, but I know it won’t help my testimony any, and could hurt it instead. I’m thankful to a God who is so amazing that He can use someone I don’t even know to speak to me about an incident that they don’t even know just happened to me to help change my attitude and influence my choices for Him. It’s awesome to know He cares about us that much…even though we are just flesh on our best days!
Thank you, Lysa!
Cyndy Clauss says
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your heart” I read this version somewhere, (a Robert Fulgrum book I think.) For me, this version has more truth than the one I learned in the schoolyard. This is also the one I want to remember when I want to return the favor of pain to one that hurt me. I might not get to choose the feeling or whether or not I am hurt, but I do get to choose my intention, my words and my actions.
How does God know exactly what I need to read exactly when I need to read it?? Oh yeah- he is God ;-). Your book and your posts have helped me so much to call on God for truth rather than being led by my feelings. In a world where us ‘high feelers’ are often looked down upon for being too ’emotional’, you are a reminder that God made us to feel deeply, which can mean much joy- or much pain. But he can also give his children self-control through the fruit of his Spirit in us, to not allow our lives to be led by our feelings. Thank you so much for being transparent and allowing God to use you – it has been a blessing to me 😉
Mel @ Trailing After God says
Ironically, mean girls is this week’s bible study topic. We’re studying Esther by Beth Moore. SO good. My husband deleted his FB account yesterday because he said it’s just a platform for people to say things they’d never say to your face and he was tired of it. Somedays, I totally agree with him. Thank you for this reminder. I too can be a mean girl when things feel out of control but I’ve learned that I always regret it. It’s not worth it and I’d rather be nice, even when others aren’t.
“Timely” and “ironic” are just two of the words that came to mind as I read this…..and CRAZY! Crazy good, of course….how crazy good God is to confirm His voice and what He is speaking to me. Out of the blue a couple of nights ago, I began listening to the Intro session to the Esther bible study that I had downloaded to my ipod over a year ago. God totally spoke to me as I walked through the neighborhood listening to Beth. And then, this morning I am attacked by a person on FB…..they were saying things that they certainly wouldn’t say to my face (or maybe this person would….they are kinda mean anyway). So thank you, Lysa and thank you, Mel!
” But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.”
This is such an important lesson. I, too, had an intense text conversation recently that was hurtful…to both of us. I am embarrassed at my reaction & have struggled with how to forgive while also protecting myself from further emotional distress. Sometimes it’s hard to remove the toxicity from our lives…especially when it comes in the form of a friend.
Thank you for an enlightening post!
thank you for this post. I have some people in my life who because I believe I am called to forgi ve, I keep letting back in, only to get burnt again. Could you expand on your idea of not giving access to your life due to destructive behavior??
“Lysa, you know when you’ve taken the high road, God blesses you. You’ve seen these blessings over and over as you’ve made choices that honor God. So choose a blessing today and save yourself the emotional turmoil of trying to prove you’re right.”
i just wanted to add:
god is not obligated to bless us for taking the high road. obeying god does not always bring blessing. i am reminded of JESUS. he was perfect.
we have to do the right thing regardless of outcome.
Jessica Y says
Probably what she means is that ULTIMATELY, obedience brings blessing. Just like Jesus.
I was just thinking what a blessing it must be to have a husband that listens and answers with words of wisdom! 🙂
Diane Payne says
By taking the high road and obeying God, does that mean that we have to spend time with the person who continually hurts us? Can we say that we really don’t like them for what they have done and try to stay away from being hurt again?
Lysa, this blog helped me so much! My husband & I seem to hit each other’s ‘sensitive spot’ quite often in our interactions & I am usually the one to flare up. I appreciated as well your devotional about your beautiful sweater unraveling so easily when the snag wasn’t corrected right away. That really spoke to me & helped me see the need to not give up when we are at odds over something that has been said or done. Bless you in your ministry! It is sooooo needed!
Beth Williams says
“It’s like an inner attorney rises up desperate to defend my rights and get the other person to see things my way. This is pretty normal, right?” I have felt like that many many times, especially at work. One day a co-worker, in a staff meeting with the entire staff present, put the blame on me for doing something she could just have easily done. I felt hurt, betrayed. The inner me wanted to rise up and scream –hey you know all I do around here–I was busy with a number of other things!
Fortunately I kept my mouth shut, cried a little and let God handle things. The outcome was that 2 of my co-workers went to the new boss and explained the situation.
God is good!
Elise Daly Parker says
It’s so easy to lash out when we’re hurt. And so so easy now more than ever with all our instant techno world to react more quickly and maybe regretfully! Thank God for hubbies who know us so well. I’ll never forget sharing my story with a Christian counselor about a friend who hurt me deeply. I was so right, it was ridiculous. Even God would agree…right? Well my counselor said, “You know…God doesn’t take sides.” This penetrated deeply. His desire, His purposes are so much greater than our own. What a privilege to represent Him by keeping our mouths and our fingers still!
sulking | (almost) everyday portraits says
[…] My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns. Everything I do and say tells a story of Who I serve. ~Lysa TerKeurst […]
Amber Kemp says
This is truly a wonderful post. It’s so difficult to “bite our tongue” and be slow to anger….quick to listen….easier said than done. But this post is so encouraging in that we can truly achieve these things by God’s grace, and on our own. I know too well that my flesh wants to lash out, fight back, stir the pot…etc. I loved how you said, “But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.” It’s important to remember that God does want us to respect others, love others, be kind, whilst still guarding our own hearts and follow after Him in obedience. Thank you for this! <3
Amber Kemp says
And I meant….”NOT on our own.” 😉
“My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” true and very hard to do. I think it takes an enormous amount of trust to do this
So love this : ” But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.”
Someone at our church harmed one of my children a while back. We confronted and met with them but chose to also leave that church so our child would no longer be put in harm’s way…..and we were told we should be more forgiving. Pardon me, but forgiveness had nothing to do with us leaving.
Great advice from your husband! We can all benefit from that. On another note, I’ve found that text messages often don’t convey the spirit in which they were meant. Does that make sense? Sometimes things just seem more blunt and without feeling and that is because it is not personal. Good job choosing the higher road.
I’m in the middle of Unglued. Awesome book! So helpful for understanding how I deal with my emotions!! Reading this here along with some recent experiences confirms that God is definitely calling me to understand myself and this whole area in a healthier way. Thank you!
Thanks so much for this. It is difficult for me to let go of the hurt and pain. I want to retaliate, but you are correct. Negative reactions only makes the issues worse. I just want to be free from the hurt. Thanks.
I have a letter written to my husband, we have been seperated for over 6 mths. I’m tearing it up until there is not one thing of blame or selfishness left in it. Please pray for me, no, not me, us. In God’s love, sheila
Praying for you Sheila! May God continue to lead and guide you through His Word and His Spirit working through the community of His faithful ones.
Beth Zimmerman says
Excellent post! I was trying to figure out a way to share how completely I relate, without oversharing in this forum, and can’t find one, but trust me when I tell you … the Lord told me quite clearly last week to sit down, hush up, and let HIM defend me. I may have pouted a little but I did hush! =)
I needed to read this today! Thanks!
I needed to read this post today. Because I was angry over words said to me last night. Hurtful words that kept me awake, and made me cry. Said to me by my 19 year old son, no less. I don’t know how to properly react to his outburst. I know how I want to react, and I am trying to watch my words toward him. I have not proworked through the hurt but I am trying. Thank you for helping.
Laura @ Finding Home says
Oh, I needed this one too! Thanks so much! Take care, Laura
Thank God for His messengers. After asking God this morning to help me with my anger, this is exactly what I need. Thank you Lord!!!!
Thank you for this, I really needed to hear this today. I was just attacked out of the blue by a former friend and was in that state of wanting to defend myself and be mean and return the hurt she gave me. This helped me see what a better option is and allowed me to let go without stating my point and repaying evil for evil. The reminder that forgiving someone doesn’t always mean letting them back into your life they way they had been was also very needed as this was a friend who I was trying to restore a friendship with and this helped me see that she really isn’t a friend and so trying to let her back into that place wasn’t warranted. I still love her and will pray for her, but she is quite toxic to me.
Thank you for your honesty and the gentle reminder to me that I do not have to justify myself that God will do that and receiving the blessing that comes doing it God’s way is far better than any reward I think justification might bring on my own, I needed to hear this and plant your post deep in my heart. Thank you.
Sent this to my mom and a friend today, both in need of hearing these encouraging and introspective words. We all tend to slip so easily back into the fight-or-flight mode of the old man when the new man is called to a life of rest and receiving from our loving Father. Thank you for sharing….many, many women need to hear this, including me, on any given day.
This was such an awesome reminder. I’m very outspoken but there’s also times when you need to be silent and respond in kindness. Then move away from it and forgive, let it go.
Susie db says
Thank you so much for writing this devotion. It ministered to me. I to am dealing with a family member who has hurt me deeply and told many lies and continues to hurt even when being confronted. This came at a time I truly needed to hear.
Wow, this really hits home! But I am the MEAN one hurting my neighbors by being unkind, sarcastic and defensive, creating hurt feelings and a really sad representation of Jesus. Please pray for me, that I can let go of my ‘rights’ and need to have things my way or let someone else have their way! Lord God, help!
Kerry @ Made For Real says
So, so hard! But great encouragement and relating in the real stuff. Thanks! Getting ready to do the Unglued study with some women at church – cant wait!!
Jesus died for us to save us from our feelings, emotions (ourselves). When we respond negatively to hurtful comments or reactions we are protecting pride. Pride is not pleasing to God. In fighting back with pride we do not get the satisfaction, we end up saying more hurtful things but still do not get the satisfaction, and there goes the circle. Bitterness sets in and all the horrible feelings. The battle is not ours. Jesus is ready to fight our battles because He knows we end up being a mess in these battles.
Hi Lysa, this is very very good post 🙂 This is exactly me, trying to prove myself right at many times. Controlling ourselves to some Facebook, Twitter shout/post or even text message really requires God in our heart.
Thank you for sharing 🙂