Oh, the holidays.
So much fun. So cozy. So sparkly and delicious.
And sometimes, so very painful.
Whether it’s family, friends, or total strangers, we get thrown together with lots of people this time of year.
And, often, we get thrown together as we are planning or attending gatherings that are stressful for some reason–either just happy people trying to put on a beautiful event, or really crabby people feeling the pressure of time and debt and dysfunction, or some combination of the two.
Clearly, many times, this is not a good thing.
And we can get caught in the middle, in the way of someone who is short on patience and time.
And words can hurt.
Below are three ways you can overcome hurtful words quickly. Life is too short to hold on to someone else’s bad decision.
1.) Know this: It’s not about you.
Nine times out of ten, a person’s statements reflect their own mood or situation.
One time, I was in a big box store a few weeks before Christmas when I nearly had a head-on cart collision with a white haired gentleman. Even though it was an accident–both of us were pushing carts around a blind corner–I smiled and apologized. I thought he would do the same, and we would move on.
I said, “Oh, I’m sorry!”
He scowled at me and shouted, “SORRY? OH! YEAH, I KNOW YOU ARE!!!”
For some reason, typing this today makes me laugh out loud. But that day, I was devastated.
I was in my twenties and had my little ones with me. When he shouted at me in front of them and called me “sorry,” I almost cried.
But it was not about me being “sorry,” it was about him having a bad day.
Maybe his wife sent him to the store, and he hated it or was afraid of letting her down. Maybe he was just a mean man. I have no idea. But it was his problem, not mine.
That day, I just kept telling myself, it’s not about you, it’s not about you. Which brings me to number two.
2.) Say out loud that you don’t receive the hurtful comments. Speak up and replace them with truth.
Say, “This is not about me. I do not receive those words. That person’s problem does not get to tell me who I am.”
I love the verses that talk about what we hear, that faith comes by hearing.
And not only does faith come by hearing, but we develop faith in the things we hear most.
If we listen to lies, we will begin to believe them. If we listen to truth, the same is true. We can’t control what other people say to us, but we can control what we say to ourselves, and so, control what we hear, and so, what we believe.
Joyce Meyer suggests starting your day by saying “God loves me” one hundred times.
Get ahead of any lies that might come your way by filling up on a beautiful truth first thing in the morning.
When that man called me “sorry,” at one time, I would have said to myself, “Why did he say that to me? What did I do that made him be so mean? I must really be a sorry excuse for a human being if he felt like yelling at me!”
But I had learned that I had a choice.
So instead of beating myself up because of something someone else did, I said, “I do not receive that. And I forgive that guy. And I bless him.”
Which brings me to number three.
3.) Forgive quickly, and bless the person.
I cannot tell you how many times people have said things to me that cut me to my heart. Things that kept me up at night. Things that made me feel sick, that gave me a pain in my stomach, things that I remembered that made me cringe and sweat.
But, over time, I learned that they hurt me partly because I agreed with them and because I kept asking “why?”
“Why would they do that to me?”
There is so much in that little question. The “why” looks for a way to make the hurtful comment make sense. But abuse never makes sense. Trying to force sense out of abuse will wear you down. It is an unanswerable, never-ending spiral of a question.
And asking, “why would they do that to me?” makes the whole scenario about, well, me.
And most of the time, again, what other people say is not about me. Or you.
I also love the verse that says “from the fullness of the heart, the mouth will speak.” Some translations say, “from the overflow of the heart.” The verse doesn’t say “from the way everyone else acts, the mouth will speak.” It is clear that what comes out of a person comes because it is what was already there.
In the same way that if someone spills a drink on you, it is not your fault, neither are the words that “spill” out of a person’s mouth to be blamed on you.
In a very few cases, you might need to listen to the heart of a matter, even if the presentation was less than kind. Especially if you hear the same thing over and over again from different people. But, most of the time, a person’s words only reflect one thing: the state of their own heart.
Occasionally, if we are very tender, or the person is very close, or the comment strikes an insecurity we already have, we have to be more persistent.
I have had times when I had to repeat these steps over and over and over.
But I realized that I would repeat something to myself over and over, even if I didn’t try. It could either be their words, or God’s. I learned to choose truth.
I choose to speak over myself words of life, even if I don’t feel it. I repeat them until I do. Sometimes, it has taken one time. Other times, twenty. And some hurtful words did not leave my soul for years, but I could feel them loosening their grasp as I stood on truth.
It gets easier the more we practice. Speak life. It’s better. It works.
And, bonus: The more you speak life over yourself, the more life you hear. The more you hear, the more you fill your own heart with love.
And by filling your own heart with love, you become more likely to speak love to others. It’s a win/win. You will bless everyone around you as you bless yourself.
I am a child of God.
God loves me. God loves me. God loves me.
I bless. I bless. I bless.
What words do you need to trade in for truth today?
The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45