Loving other people can feel like stepping across a field of land mines sometimes. Perhaps this is truest of all online. So many angry words, sharp-pointed opinions, destructive assumptions. Why do we do this to each other?
I’ve come to believe this: We are most angry when we are most afraid. It’s the old flight-or-fight response built into our bodies from the beginning. Some of us flee, but others of us pick up our guns and load them with words. We think we are saving ourselves, maybe even saving the world, but we are destroyers in disguise.
I recently talked about this with two friends and fellow writers. During our conversation, this verse came to mind: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). We, as humans, tend to think if we can have things our way, then the world will be better. So we fight our fear aggressively and forcefully. We post and shout. We raise our fists and our voices.
But what if instead of spewing those angry words and that tirade online, we simply go to the person who is standing in our kitchen today and say, “I love you and I am for you”? Or we reach out to someone who is different from us because we also fear what we don’t understand? And if we’re spending all our time saying, “Here’s my opinion,” then we’re not listening, not understanding. Fear wins.
One of my friends asked, “What would it be like if we made a commitment to fight for each other instead of with each other?” It’s a question worth considering if we want to defeat fear. Because if we live with swords drawn in defense, then we are always on guard, looking for the next fight, seeing threatening shadows in every corner.
When (in)courage first started over a decade ago, I created a Commitment of Words and we all agreed to it. I find myself thinking of it again with everything that’s going on in our world today.
A Commitment of Words
We commit to using our words to defend and heal, not to harm.
We will not gossip. We will not belittle.
We will guard our sisters by always speaking the best about them, encouraging them into all God would have them to be and offering grace instead of condemnation.
We will be loyal and loving, remembering that even if we disagree, we still fight on the same side — never against each other.
We will use our words to build up and not tear down, to bring hope and not hurt.
We offer our words as powerful weapons to fight for each other on the side of all that is good, right, and true.
We have a Protector. He is good. He is wise. He is kind. And here’s what we need to know: God hasn’t asked us to be right all the time. He has called us to love. This is the harder, braver choice because it requires opening our hearts instead of our mouths. It’s about seeing each other not as threats but as people made in the image of God. It means we lay down our weapons and go, with arms wide open, down a path that could very well lead to a cross.
At first we might be scared. This is not the easy option, after all. But it is the fiercehearted one. And it’s the only way back to grace and peace, mercy and hope, humility and kindness.
I still believe this: love is stronger than fear.
God, You are the Maker of all human beings, those who are most dear to us and those with whom we disagree. Give us eyes to see others as You do, a heart that has compassion like Yours, and the strength to keep on loving. Amen.
Will you join me in this Commitment of Words today?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Reading your post, I think of all the verses in Proverbs that caution against an angry tongue. It’s sad, that in this day and age, we can hide behind our computer screens and lob vicious words at each other – words that we would never say to someone face to face. I join you in being committed to using my words to encourage and build others up and not tear them down. Even among His enemies, Jesus showed love and compassion. That’s a hard model to live up to, but we can try or we can simply give up and give in. Joining with you in guarding my words and in doing so, guarding the hearts of others. May God be our strength.
Holley Gerth says
Thank you for joining me, Bev!
Kim Gibbens says
I love the analogy of swords being drawn. Swords are for battle, not for peace. We have to lay them down at some point if we are going to stop waging war. Brene Brown uses the phrase “I’m not here to be right. I’m here to get it right.” As long as we are communicating through weapons, we will only see those on the other side of our beliefs as the enemy. We will never see them as fellow image-bearers of God. We will never embrace our sameness. We will continually look for ways to justify our anger and rightness. May we all lay down our verbal swords and start truly listening.
Keep writing and fighting the good fight.
Your words matter.
Holley Gerth says
Love that quote from Brene! And your wise words too, Kim!
Write on, Holley! Well said. When we’re feeling frustrated and scared, we must turn away and love on the people God puts in our path.
Beth Williams says
Definitely joining you in a commitment of words. On social media I am very cognizant of the words I post. Wanting always to build up & not tear down anyone. In fact I use the think method of writing. Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind. Answer no then don’t post it. I read so many angry posts from people sharing their opinions. My choice is to ignore it & move on. People don’t realize how words ca offend & hurt others. It may seem innocent to you at the time, but can be detrimental to someone else. God made us all different/unique. We won’t always have the same opinion. That is alright. God commands us to love each other as He loves us. We should all think before we write or speak. Take the time to consider your words & the audience you are writing to. Don’t give in to fear but love everyone as Christ did.
Holley Gerth says
Tara Archibald says
Love this, Holley! Thank you! Ive been holding onto 2 Timothy 1:7 in this season. “For God has given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 🙂 Love conquers all! All fear, all hate, all evil, all prejudice. Because LOVE conquered all…all sin, all death. Jesus, our truest example of love
Yes. Thank you for this!
I have been disappointed to see some of the vitriol in some recent comments as I have always thought of this community to be a place of love, support and grace.
I am a pretty opinionated person, so I can understand the desire to express oneself. However, I always to try to express a difference of opinion with respect.
In this community (and elsewhere) may we lift each other up.
M @ In Beautiful Chaos says
“Because if we live with swords drawn in defense, then we are always on guard, looking for the next fight, seeing threatening shadows in every corner.”
So true!! Reminds me of a song by Jason Gray, “Fear Is Easy, Love Is Hard.” There’s a line in the song that says “A well defended heart is always looking for a fight/ in a lonely war against an endless night…” That line gets me every time because it is so true. We fight hardest when we’re scared. If only we would learn to fight for each other, as your friend said, instead of with each other then this world could be a much better place!
M @ In Beautiful Chaos
Jill Tinlin says
My pastor preached a similar massage this morning. I am with you! I am so exhausted by the negativity and the opinions. I am committed to being a voice of hope and a light in the world. We women, especially need to be cheerleaders for one another. Let’s be voices of grace and mercy to our sister’s in Christ.
Beautiful words! I pray that we all, as God’s girls, will use our words to uplift and renew one another – I commit!!
This is perfect. I just logged out of Facebook (again) because people have to be so negative and hateful. I don’t get the point of putting it on Facebook. I refuse to participate, so I just log out and move on. I will not engage with hate. Thank you for writing this post.
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