”Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
When was the last time someone “pushed your buttons?”
How did you respond?
Were you able to escape without saying things YOU regret?
Or did you let loose?
Or some variant in-between?
The things we care about the most, or perhaps the sources of our deepest pain leave us vulnerable to people who may intentionally or unintentionally set off triggers inside of us. When pressed in this way, we might respond rashly and justify it later by saying the person was deliberately trying to set us off or provoke us, or perhaps spoke out of turn. Maybe the person is passive aggressive-the type of person who cloaks jabs and digs and references in otherwise polite conversation.
Then, there may be things that we consider to be “fighting words.” The law defines these as “words which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
Think about various curse words that upset you to hear-or racial epithets-or insults directed at our family members or to God.
What are fighting words to your ears?
What do you do when you hear them?
To cultivate peace in our spirit, it’s important to pray for help in responding appropriately to these words. In the case of obscenity or racial epithets, perhaps the best response might be walking away or explaining you choose not to to be around people who speak in that way.
For other, more personally directed “fighting words” keeping silent when we hear them or saying very little in response might be a huge effort, especially with the “send” key being so readily available on our computer keyboards.
Before email, we had to at least muster the courage to pick up the phone to chew someone out. Now, it’s become easier as our fingers fly and we can even proofread our responses for maximum stinging impact.
(Yes I’ve done it-recently).
So for myself, I am working on the “no response” method.
To not respond is a response in itself.
This simply means that to respond through a conscious decision not to respond or engage, at least for a time. When this is impractical, attempt to just get five minutes to take a walk, breathe or pray.
Doing this tends to put you more in control of the exchange and, most importantly, gives you an opportunity to invite God into the dialogue.
What is down in the well of our hearts is often revealed when we hear “fighting words.”
Don’t be discouraged if you find you have anger in your heart.
It just means you need God’s peace and God’s timing to come to resolution with the other person. You may also need to ask for forgiveness or grant some.
For me, I have also seen in recent days that I need to be praying for right responses to other people each day since it’s a quality I lack. Each day I pray for peace, harmony, and prosperity in my home and family. I now see that I need to add to the list the ability to just shut up!
It is all disquieting but is necessary for our growth.
Ask God to help you with your weeding.
All the Best in 2013!
P.S. Still feel the need to disclaim to the reading public I have not satisfactorily cultivated this ability in my own life. I am still willing to examine myself and write on the topic, hoping that others can relate to me and not feel alone in struggling.