How did I learn about the importance of kind words…or even that they were necessary?
(This is a Part II from this post on outreach.)
Sometimes I was on the receiving end of true words stated in unkind and unloving ways. At other times, people were cruel in their behavior. I was bullied in junior high. Not beat up like boys are. Girl bullies are quite another thing, but bullied just the same! They are much worse in a very small Christian school where you can’t go to another group of people and get away to another group.Sometimes I was on the receiving end of true words stated in unkind and unloving ways. At other times, people were cruel in their behavior. Click To Tweet
As an adult, I realize my parents did not know how to handle this situation. This is particularly telling since my dad was principal of the school I attended. Actually, that was a large part of the problem. I grew up in a family much like the one in Blue Bloods. No favoritism toward kids of the principal! In reality, that often resulted in our receiving less favors than the regular kids because there was no one to advocate for us. Our dad was principal. Our mom worked hard in the school. They birthed it.
If we were accused of anything, we knew we were guilty no matter what we said! We were done for. This was the 1950’s. Parents rarely took the side of their child at school. In this case, even when mine knew the kids involved, it was asking too much. They were trying to do what they thought best for me and the school.
It took years for me to get over it…because I never knew anything else. If I am accused of anything, particularly falsely, I go into defense mode automatically. But I also have this gut feeling that I’m wasting my time trying to defend myself, no matter how truthful and factual my defense is, I’m facing a brick wall!The concept that Jesus is my advocate before the Father? This is a touching truth at a very deep level for me. Click To Tweet
The way my parents handled “the problem” was to send me away to a Christian boarding school in another state, where I was…you guessed it, bullied again! Only now I had a bigger trouble. I couldn’t even go home to get away from it at the end of the day! Even worse, it was the girls with the most “spiritual” reputations who were the meanest. There were aspects from that time that stuck with me for years!
Learning about forgiveness and healthy confrontation was not something that was done there. Yes, we were hounded to forgive and forget! But the importance of confronting properly was definitely not dealt with at all! The whole idea of being stoic, not complaining or standing up to people who are cruel? That took a very long time to learn as a healthy part of the process of forgiveness. Would you believe into my 40’s!
Having an advocate? That is a powerful picture for me.
The concept that I have an advocate anywhere, and that Jesus is my advocate before the Father? This is a touching truth at a very deep level for me.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous.
He is the propitiation for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2
My motives, that are never pure, but are also never truly known by another person, were often judged too quickly by those who had no idea what was going on in my life. They assumed they knew my motives in certain settings, by what I did, when they had NO clue at all! A few diagnostic questions would have shown them how little they knew. But no one seemed to care enough to ask even one diagnostic question.
Through those experiences, I learned the pain of being misunderstood, of being hurt, of the need for love and respect to be joined with truth, honesty and kindness so we don’t continue to hurt each other painfully…particularly inside the church, but outside it as well. I know I’m not unique in this.
My life experiences may be different from yours, but you have known the pain of harsh words, mean treatment, misunderstood actions during your lifetime I’m sure. These are ways you learn of the need for kindness…kind words, kind actions. These are when you understand what the encouraging words mean after a day full of sarcasm and rudeness.
Learn to give the gift of encouragement, building up, honoring each other…with your words and actions.
This is when you understand what a gift it is when a friend calls or texts to say, “I was thinking of you today. I prayed for you and wondered if it was a hard day.” Or even when she picks a few flowers and says, “Some of my flowers bloomed and I wanted to share them with you.”Learn to give the gift of encouragement and kind words and deeds. It is the best gift you will ever give! Click To Tweet
It makes no difference whether it is in our homes, churches, work or the community at large…to say nothing of the internet! Our words can wound harshly. We need to think before we speak. It sounds good. It’s in the doing that we often run into trouble. I don’t do it as well as I once did.
I don’t speak as a sweet innocent who has never said a cutting or sarcastic word. I have said plenty. I’m as normal as the next person. I have been impatient with the hypersensitivity of the other person when they took my words in a hurtful way and I didn’t have that meaning anywhere in my head! I have had to learn to apologize and mean it. It has been very good for me…but painful just the same. I had to learn to use my words better and not toss them around so carelessly.
Finding ways to honor and show respect to people, no matter their age or condition, has been helpful to me both in the hospital and in everyday life. Some days I even succeed…by the grace of GOD.
Do I honor the people I talk to?…no matter what their age? Child, adult, elderly, oriented or not? It often takes forethought, particularly as we are changing our attitudes and learning to change behavior. These are not simple changes. We often need the help and encouragement of other people within a close circle of friends to help us…with learning to word statements better, finding ways to leave out barbs, using words that build up instead of tear down.
As we learn to love people, we find better ways to love them with our words.
In what ways do you need to do this? If you have a group of friends, you might discuss this…how you could find ways to encourage others better as a group and as individuals.
As you brainstorm, you might discuss how you could better encourage each other inside your group, to use your words better.
Oh wow this is good. It sort of kicked me in the gut, because my husband is the principal and I teach at a small christian school. Our kids know if they get in trouble at school they’ll be in worse trouble at home. It’s been great for 2 but for the 3rd, it’s been tough and getting tougher. To be honest, I read your whole post but my heart stopped when you talked about defending yourself without feeling a point, or feeling heard and how badly we need an advocate. I cannot forget to advocate for my 3rd – so that he always feels heard, even if he DID mess up. Thank you for the extremely timely reminder!
carol, the weird part about it was that we were always bugged about being treated as favorites…and it was the biggest fear of our parents! i just think that no matter what you do, there will be those who make that accusation. we gave to realize we are parents first. it was very helpful as we raised our girls with ron being pastor. he didn’t grow up as a pastor’s kid (which i was at times) so he had no trouble standing up for them if it was needed…it rarely was. but he didn’t feel the church was entitled to expect more of our kids than they did of any of the other elders’ kids so that helped…it’s biblical too! when they are ordained, they make the same commitments he does.
so weird. i have really never spoken or written about that b/f that day. it just ended up on the page. i guess it was a GOD think. it happens a lot:) i have found the material at http://peacemaker.net very helpful. they have children’s, teen (comic book form) and adult versions of learning to give an effective apology, etc. very helpful for adults and kids in terms of reconciliation and forgiveness.
I too was bullied – in middle school. I was tall and gawky with buck teeth. Yet when I entered into high school, now with braces, and fellow students treated me kindly. This taught me early on not to mistreat people just because they looked different because they were the same person on the inside no matter what they looked like on the outside.
As an adult, it has actually been Christians who have hurt me the most, but Jesus words would encourage me. ” When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
Thank you so much for sharing such an edifying post.
i’m so glad this was helpful to you karen. i see that you are a pastor’s wife as well:) blessings!