Has your 24-hour day been ruined by 5 seconds of someone’s unkindness towards you?
It’s awful, isn’t it!? We feel shocked, off balance, and our whole being feels attacked. We choose to be angry (fight!) and enraged OR completely hurt (flight!) and go to the insecure, dark places inside of us.
Why do people do that? Is this world just full of evil jerks?
Nope. We are God’s so, ick-it-hurts-to-say-this-but, everyone is a beloved child of God. Even the mean people who make our lives miserable. Yep, I double-checked, even them.
So how do I respond (inwardly and outwardly) when someone is unkind?
- Take a deep breath.
- Pray “God, help! This is awful!” Pause and count to 10. Remember you are loved, and so is this person being unkind. (Warning: if you do this, you will never be the “dramatic” or “needy” friend in your social circles. And your reality TV career will never take flight.)
- It’s not (totally) about you.
- Remember that people act out as a SYMPTOM of a lot of unrelated bad gunk going on in their lives. While their feelings are always valid, an escalated outburst or violent action has NOTHING to do with you and is unacceptable.
- Be Winnie the Pooh.
- Slow down and think. Be present and thoughtful. If there is even a bit of truth in what they are saying, simply respond with, “I will address this with you when we are both sitting down and can calmly speak to each other.” If this is not an option, walk away. Setting boundaries like this not only validates you, it adds value to the dignity and human worth of the person being unkind.
- Don’t fight back with name calling, eye rolling, or anything that devalues that person. You’re only hurting yourself (bashing festers into hate) and disrespecting the God that created both of you.
Who do you think you are, giving me this advice?
- Well, I’ve certainly made mistakes in this situation. And when I do the actions above (see above!), I can honor God without losing myself. At the end of the day, I don’t want to harbor anger (which is often fear and insecurity) or hate (bitter is not a good look) or mistrust. I’m not oblivious to the muck of life but I don’t want to add to it, either.
- And Jesus taught assertiveness–to love fully and love cleverly without being run over at the same time. This is a lifelong practice we can work toward. Assertive behavior is next-level humanity, and we can do this!
- At one time or another, we all play the role of the unkind person. It’s not fun to admit that, but we should forgive ourselves and each other, so the following prayer fits this topic pretty well.
Because I’m still grinning from the joyful leadership the kids presented during Children’s Sabbath last Sunday, here’s an honest prayer from Children’s Sabbath (& Children’s Defense Fund) founder Marian Wright Edelman:
O God, forgive my unkind words, my harsh tone, my impatient gesture, my ruthless perfectionism.
Like the Apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do NOT want is what I do.”
Please infuse my weak sinful self with Your gentle loving spirit. Amen.
-Guide My Feet by Marian Wright Edelman
- Fall Festival was festival-rrific! Thanks for volunteering and attending to be a part of all of the fun.
- Thank you to kids, youth, parents and other Holmeswoodians who made Children’s Sabbath a worship-filled, Spirit-led experience. Your footprints were all over it! (literally…footprints all over the sanctuary)
- Advent Eat-vent is Sunday, Nov. 25 after BFGS!
- Lunch, make Reverse Advent Calendars and lots of Advent-filled fun!
May your week be filled with kindness. You are loved.