You go to someone to tell them something that is important to you. They react in a way that you did not expect and it blindsides you. You want to share something with your loved one and they react negatively. You decide to confide in a friend and instead of supporting you, you get criticized. You reach out to help someone, and instead of thanking you, they pass it off without so much of a grunt. You try to share your heart on a matter and you are misunderstood and falsely accused.
How do these reactions make you feel? Like you want to do it all again? After facing someone and being raw and real with them (which takes a lot of guts), and then they respond in such a way, does it make you want to go back and face them again? Does it make you want to approach them again? Does it make you want to be real with them again? Does it make you want to bare your heart in confidence? I have been on this end before and I assure you the answer to these questions is a big “No!” It is much safer if when around these kind of people, you just stay quiet. If all they can offer is drama and negativity, they are no help anyway so it is better to “suffer silently”.
I have been on the receiving end of this, but I have also been guilty of doing this. I especially think of my roles as wife, mother, Pastor’s wife and friend. These are areas that are highly susceptible to me having a judgmental and critical spirit. It is not my place to correct everyone else, but it is most definitely my job to analyze my own life. The Lord has been speaking to my heart to be alert in this area. Especially as my children are getting older and are seeking their way through life. How will my reactions help or hurt them?
I am convinced that the reason many young people are suffering inside is because they have no safe place to share their hearts. If they are real with their parents, they send mom and dad into shock mode and they are quickly told to “wait until they are older for those questions!” Or, they are given such a deep spiritual lesson they now think there is something wrong with them spiritually, when in reality, they just asked a very real question. So, they sink back and think they won’t put themselves through that again! Now, they will think twice before they bring that up again! If they are real with their friends, they risk being laughed at and they don’t want that. So who do they go to? They need the safety of our reactions.
Our husbands need this safety too. They are real men, with real struggles. We must be careful not to elevate them to god status in our lives. It is good to compliment and thank your husband for his good traits, but I must let him be human. He will fail me, and it will not ruin my life. He will mess up and not be thoughtful enough at times, or have a bad day and be grumpy, or not handle the children the right way, or maybe not even lead family devotions. Sometimes we get a spiritual romance novel view of our guys and how they should be if they were a true spiritual leader, when in reality, it just isn’t that way. A spiritual man fights a hard battle in this world and we should come along beside them and support them. Can our husbands feel safe to approach us with their struggles? Will our reactions scare them from being able to share their hearts with the one they should feel the safest with?
I could go on about people in our churches that need to share their burdens, or about friends who need someone safe to confide in. As my own heart has been both hurt by those I love and has been guilty of hurting those I love, The Lord has gently guided me to this truth this year: I need to provide safety with my reactions. It is just as important as making sure my family is physically and spiritually safe. They need to know that their hearts and emotions are precious to me. They are not open for criticism, judgement or sarcasm. They need my love. There is a way to guide them in love and make them feel safe, while at the same time telling them truth.
The other night, one of my children needed to talk to me about something that was bothering them. I let them pour out their heart and I listened. I did share some things that a mother should to help guide them, but when we were finished, this child grabbed my neck and hugged me very tight. They said, “Momma, thank you. I thought you would think I was bad. I wish everyone had a Mom like you.” You know what The Lord taught me that night? My child will come to me again. They felt safe. I am so thankful The Lord is working on this area on my life.
Isn’t this how God is? He can handle whatever we say to Him without having a drama fest. He doesn’t rant and rave and carry on. He does guide us in truth, but He is a gentle Shepherd, and His sheep feel safe and secure. Will you join me in this prayer this year? It is not a one time prayer, but it is whispered many times a day as I am about to react wrongly.
“Lord, help me to react like you. Help those I love to feel safe with my tongue. Please give me Your wisdom to react the right way.”
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”