Sweet friend, let’s chat. About “those” emails. “Those” comments. “Those” hurtful words that make our smiles fall, our pulses rise, our throats tighten.
Harsh comments seem so unnecessary to me. I honestly can’t find any sort of justification in Scripture for hurling insults and ugliness at another person. But they’re a reality in my world. A small reality, thank heavens, but a reality nonetheless. Sadly, I bet you can relate.
And I’ll be honest — I’m just as prone as the next person to feel like putting an ugly-worded person in their place. Hurt when I’ve been hurt. Invent a slap button for my computer. Not so nice, huh?
That’s why I don’t react out of my feelings. This will only cause the conflict to escalate rather than dissipate.
I wait to respond until I can process the hurt with more than my feelings. For me, hurtful things are processed through the emotional part of my brain before the logical part of my brain. Honestly, I need both emotion and logic — as well as Scripture — involved in my response, so I wait.
Here are three things I keep in mind before I reply:
1. Is a reply even necessary?
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15).
Sometimes the delete button is a lovely feature.
2. A reaction and a reply are vastly different.
“When they hurled their insults at him [Jesus], he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
God knows. God sees. God honors those who honor Him.
3. Humility defuses ugliness.
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
Giving grace doesn’t make the other person right. It acknowledges my own desperate need for it.
Oh sweet friend . . . I pray you don’t need this advice today. But if and when you do, I pray it helps.
Which of these three things is the hardest for you to do? What other advice do you have for handling harsh criticism?