The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? – Proverbs 18:14. Careless words and actions can and do hurt – sometimes they cause pain for a very long time.
The woman that dishonestly or unfairly vents her thoughts about another woman to her husband, children or others. The person that tells only their side of the story, to make the other person look bad. That man that comments about another man’s character being dishonorable. The group that chatters together conjuring up stories of sinful activity. The person, when asked about someone, reacts with a raised eyebrow or even a very slight derogatory comment. The woman that excludes another woman from her life or makes another woman feel unwelcome without a genuine reason. The woman that uses body language to ignore another woman. The person that tells half truths about someone to mislead others. The young person that gossips, excludes or uses unkind words about a peer or another family. Finally, the person that makes the mistake of listening to one side of the story and allows their opinion to be swayed. It might seem benign – “after all, it will never get back to the person and so what if it does – they deserve it and it makes me feel better”.
It is never harmless. It always damages the person that has been hurt, as well as the person guilty of the hurting. It can be a firestorm in someone’s life – taking years to recover but just like a forest that has been burned away, if handled correctly, beautiful growth can emerge. How can beauty come up out of these ashes? First, when you are believing a lie about yourself or the situation, you must tell yourself a truth. Here are some examples. “They are twisting the story” can become “the truth will come out in the end”. “They are getting away with ruining my reputation or turning other people against me” can become either “I have earned credibility and other people won’t automatically believe this” or “if they don’t know me very well, I shouldn’t be overly concerned about their opinion of me” and ultimately “God’s opinion of me is the only opinion that matters”. “I feel like women despise me” can become “I have women in my life that value me”. “There must be something wrong with me” can become “it is not because of who I am. It is because of how they choose to behave or who they are.” Second, you have to trust and believe that God is a God of justice and that He will not allow this to go on forever. Third, if you find that you are obsessing about an offense against you and stirring the pot of stew so to speak, there are techniques to help you manage this. Try limiting your stewing sessions to five minutes in the morning and five minutes before bedtime. If your mind tries to stir the pot during the other times of the day – just remind yourself “not now – later”. Soon, you may not need those sessions at all. Finally, do not resort to vindictive or childish behavior. It might make you feel better in the short run but in the long run, it will hurt you. These healing actions will protect you from bitterness taking root.
Women are especially vulnerable to perceiving that another woman’s grass is greener. Insecurities or jealousy of another woman’s accomplishments, character, personality, physical appearance, husband, children or even a pure admiration that she might receive from men or even other women, can cause an insecure woman to behave rudely, cruelly or even maliciously. A husband is the leader of his wife and therefore he is responsible to watch for these behaviors. Keep in mind, she may be very adept at concealing these behaviors from her husband. Husbands, you can make a difference in this area. She may not want you to, but she needs you to lead her and hold her accountable. I realize that a peaceful environment is difficult to give up but coddling bad behavior, emboldens it. Parents, if you notice that your daughter is involved in this type of behavior, hold her accountable and train her up correctly while you still have influence in her life. This is not innocent conduct and even words or actions that you might deem harmless, may be hurting another human being.
Are you wounded? Maybe others have excluded you, talked about you, lied about you, rejected you and worst of all, at times, maybe it has affected your children. If you are wounded, then you know the pain that this can cause. I offer comfort to you – you probably did nothing to deserve this treatment. I offer encouragement to you – get back out there and find others that have healthy self-images, because they will be able to love you and they will celebrate everything about you. I offer reassurance to you – that you deserve to have people in your life that will give back to you.
We are raised in imperfect homes with imperfect families and often we have insecurities or emotional problems but the Bible tells us to esteem others as higher than ourselves. When we do, spirits can be lifted – marriages, families and friends built up. Let’s be willing to be honest with ourselves and take a good long look at our reflection in the mirror. Let’s search our memories and our hearts. Each of us could probably find a time when we have been guilty of spreading or listening to careless words, being unkind or not holding ourselves or others accountable. Would you join me in committing to not being part of the problem as you move forward with your relationships?