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Wisdom for Wives Who Are Moms of Kids with Special Needs – by Cheryl

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

A guest post by one of my readers, Cheryl. I’m so thankful she is willing to share some of the things she has learned on the tough road she and her husband and family have shared. Honestly, they are pearls of wisdom for all of us!

As we sat in our car in the medical parking lot, somewhat numb and in shock, we wondered what God was doing. We had just been told our 7 month-old son had Lissencephaly. We had no idea what to expect. Married just under 3 years, we had already experienced the birth of our first-born son, the still-born birth of his twin brother, and numerous hospital stays – all before our first anniversary.

Now what was God doing? Didn’t He know we couldn’t do this?

What about our hopes, our dreams? What now? So many questions and no answers, except to trust the One who knew them.  We had vowed we would stay together and persevere, no matter what life brought our way. It is this commitment and a gracious, merciful and faithful God that has carried us through.

Fast forward five years and our family now consisted of four boys; our youngest, also diagnosed with Lissencephaly. Our lives revolved around therapies, IEP’s, school and government paperwork, doctor’s appointments and seizure management – along with work, school and church activities. We did our best to keep up, to be the best parents we could be to all our sons. And, life went on.

Our marriage often took a back seat.

Although we did attend a few marriage conferences and took a few weekend getaways and short vacations, bitterness, anger and isolation was creeping in, unseen, ignored and left to grow. What I started realizing around 23 years of marriage, was that I had baggage that needed to be addressed. I had bitterness. I had attitudes that needed adjusting and a heart that needed to be changed.  A lot of pain and subsequent consequences could’ve been avoided had I chosen to heed the early warning signs.

With this in mind, may I share with you some of the lessons God has been teaching me the past couple of years while in His loving refining room?

  • Abiding in Christ: Growth, peace and contentment in my personal life and marriage begins and ends with abiding in Christ. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. This means staying close to my Shepherd, getting to know Him, loving Him, trusting Him, obeying Him.
  • Obedience: I am learning that my obedience and yielding to Christ, or lack there-of, affects not only my ability to know Him, to hear His voice, to see His work in my life and to be used by Him, but also affects my relationships, my marriage, my attitudes, my peace of mind and my heart. In the midst of all the demands and responsibilities that come along with being a mom of boys with special needs, I oftentimes put obeying God on the back burner. I neglected my time with Him. I didn’t guard my heart, my words, my thoughts, or my actions – especially in my marriage. I took my marriage and husband for granted, failing to realize the gradual erosion taking place.
  • Address Issues Early: Looking back, I wish my husband and I would’ve worked through our baggage, couple issues, and differences in the early years of our marriage. Although, it would’ve been difficult finding childcare (as is often the case due to high medical needs and challenges), and expensive to see a counselor, we probably would’ve avoided pain and pitfalls down the road.
  • Thankfulness: God is teaching me that a thankful heart and attitude keeps bitterness and a sour attitude from nesting in my heart. If I keep fixated on what my boys can’t do, what they are missing out on, and what my husband and I are missing out on, then, not only do I grow bitter, but, I can become depressed and lose hope. Finding reasons to thank God each day helps me keep an eternal perspective, see God’s blessings in our lives and helps keep me abiding in Him.
  • Mentors:This can be a lonely and isolating life. I’ve learned that the Christian life isn’t meant to be either. We need Christian mentors in our lives;  older, wiser women as well as older, more experienced couples. It’s hard to reach out and invest the time and energy necessary for close friendships amid all the on-going responsibilities that come with the special needs territory, but it is well worth it! Years ago, God brought an older, wiser woman of God into my life who has walked with me through many seasons, mountaintops and valleys, joys and sorrows. She offers encouragement, a listening ear, wisdom, truth and perspective.  My husband and I are also in a couple’s small group Bible study. Getting there isn’t always easy or convenient and requires sacrifice on our part; but, we receive  encouragement and accountability in our marriage, and the opportunity to encourage and minister to other couples.
  • Reaching Out in Ministry: God is helping me to reach out and use my gifts to help others. This is a toughie as we SN (special needs) moms just don’t have a lot of extra time to devote to long-term, even short-term ministry. For many years, I was involved in music ministry. It worked well as it was flexible and allowed me the opportunities to use my gifts and talents for the kingdom.  God has changed my direction somewhat the past few years, stretching me in undeveloped areas and giving me many smaller opportunities to serve others. I’m learning to look for these opportunities daily and though they are often small acts, others are encouraged and blessed, and so am I.
  • God’s Word/Hope: God’s Word, His truths and promises, sustain me and help keep my eyes on Him. Meditating on and memorizing Scripture is not an easy discipline for me, but the verses I’ve learned are  readily available when I need them the most. Lately, these two verses on hope have really encouraged me.

“[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it–a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil.”  Hebrews 6:19 AMPC

“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”  Romans 15:13 TPT

 

Lord,

We praise You as Creator. You formed us and knit us together just the way You wanted. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Forgive us for our impatience, selfishness and reluctance to trust You. We pray for strength and stamina through sleepless nights and long days. Give us friends who can encourage us and give us relief when our nerves are frayed. And, give us hope when everything seems dark. We look forward to the great reward of someday seeing our special children, specially perfect!

Amen.

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What struggles and trials have you gone through in your marriage, family, career, or life that has brought about a harvest of godly wisdom you feel led to share with us?

Or do you simply need some encouragement and prayer today to help you in the midst of your current trial? Let us know so we can pray with you.

Also, if you have a testimony you’d like to share for a post on any topic, I’d love to read it. I’m looking for women’s stories about things God has taught them and how God has changed and healed them through Christ. I prefer articles about 1000-1500 words in length. You may send them to me on my contact page. I’d love to have some guest posts to share especially for the month of April.

 

Much love!

 

 

 

 

 

“I Thought God Was Like My Abusive Dad” – a Guest Post

A guest post by a sister in Christ who has had a very, very difficult life. I’m excited about what the Lord is doing in her life! Please pray with me for His continued total spiritual healing for her heart, mind, and soul:

——-

This is a good article (How Praying in Wrong Ways Destroyed My Faith in God – by Nikki) and it reminds me of something. I often prayed to God unbiblically and when I slip back into old mindsets, still can. What do I mean by this?

Without me realizing it, I prayed out of a lot of unbelief and distrust – unwittingly attributing characteristics to God that were that of my father and other authority figures who had been unjust or untrustworthy. There were many such figures in my life which made it hard to think from any other basis.

Additionally, because I had cried out to God during an abuse incident and did not hear any response from God nor witness any rescue come to pass soon after, I really didn’t trust God or think He could be relied upon to do anything about things that were of great concern to me. So I would pray from a place of doubt and mistrust with my feelings as the indicator as to what was, or was not God’s response.

I did not base my understanding of God on scripture but on my feelings which I trusted more. I regarded Christians who would insist on putting aside my feelings in favor of scripture as nuts, self-righteous Pharisees, and totally insensitive. And some of them did, indeed, fit that bill. They were in such a rush to offer the solution that they acted as if my wounds were inconsequential. And from my end, I was so hurt and felt so sorry for myself in the face of abuse and injustice that I was just not ready to value truth more than feelings or seek for anything beyond healing.

Consequently my relationship with God was often an arm wrestling match, with me trying to persuade an unwilling God to do what I needed or hoped He would or ought to do.

I saw God through the lens of my father who was very unwilling to do anything for me or to meet my needs, and whose stance towards me was one of devaluation and contempt. Dad despised women and had a very idolatrous relationship towards them; he saw women as withholding, manipulative, and whiny users and entrappers, which affected his attitude towards me. He was also a sex addict and so our home included some violation and being aware of things we ought not to have been exposed to.

As a result, my needs and feelings were invalidated and I often had to “prove” that what I wanted, needed, or felt was valid by arguing for it convincingly like some trial lawyer. I won mercy by extreme submissiveness and even prostrating myself, as if before a king with the power of life and death.

That our lives were full of drama is an understatement.

His judgements of me were always negative and tainted by his own deep bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness of his mother. The result of all of this was a sort of idolatrous interpretative bias in my own heart as I struggled to come out from under all the nasty stuff my father had transferred onto me from his undealt with issues. And I had my own hurt and reaction to it and to feeling unloved and unwanted. I think that our reactions to such things are a combination of being sinned against and sinful responses which would of course include a sort of idolatry as our lives become about seeking what was denied us.

This can also result in anger at God who surely must have been a party to the whole thing, insofar as we might see things at the time they occurred and without any understanding of what God has already done in response to evil. Our focus in this head space is usually life in this world in the here and now and wanting to be happy. We are often unaware of God’s perspective being eternal and about right relationship with Him as the source of all life and joy. This makes it hard to grasp a larger picture.

So my prayer life and the lens of my heart was tainted by these things so that I was, in effect, praying to a version of God mixed with my father.

The idea that God was a loving and just Father did not compute for me and I found the idea revolting. One day, I decided to disregard my feelings and stand on what scripture said as a higher authority. I always felt filthy and unforgiven so I decided to stand on 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – and believe that.

That little decision turned out to make a huge difference, and suddenly it seemed that the universe swung around and snapped into precise order and I was able to see clearly.

I realized at that moment that God was not obligated to respond to me if I continued to pray to Him as something He was not, rather than praying to Him according to the truth of who He was.

Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version (NKJV) says:

  • But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

And James 1:5-7 says

  • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I definitely needed my prayer life corrected and redirected by scripture and still do; praying by our emotions which tend to reinforce themselves, usually leads to a wilderness and brings despair and hopelessness as it tends to go in an ever tightening and defeating downward spiral.

Note from Peaceful Wife –

This dynamic with this dear sister’s dysfunctional relationship with her dad impacting her understanding of God is very common. We tend to assume that God is just like our earthly fathers and we have to be sure we separate the failings of our earthly fathers from our understanding of who God really is. We all need healing to some degree in this area, because none of us had perfect fathers. 

We can’t trust God if we have a warped, jaded picture of who He is, if we think He is evil and out to get us. So often, we end up getting Satan and God switched up in our minds. Not purposely, but we tend to attribute the evil attributes of Satan to God. It would be terrible to trust such a one.

We need to know who God really is and His genuine real character to be able to truly put our faith in Him. So it is important that we recognize any lies we may have embraced and that we learn to go to Scripture to find out the truth about who God is.

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If you would like to share your own skewed views of God and how that hurt your faith, you are welcome to. And if you want to share how you learned to reject the lies and receive God’s truth, we would love to hear that, as well. Or if you need prayer, you are welcome to share that here.

I, (Peaceful Wife), will be handling the comments, not the author of the post.

Much love!

RELATED

Trusting God to Heal the Scars of Sexual Abuse by Dawn Wilson

More posts on childhood abuse by Revive Our Hearts

Posts about abuse by www.gotquestions.org

Healing for Hopelessness about dealing with childhood wounds from my site www.peacefulsinglegirl.com.

What Are the Attributes of God? by www.gotquestions.org

Who Is God? video series by David Platt

** If you experienced severe trauma or abuse from your father, parents, an authority figure, someone in the church, or anyone else, please reach out for experienced, trustworthy, godly counsel – and to the Lord – to help you heal. And if you are not safe now, please reach out to the authorities if you can safely do so.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 800-799-SAFE (7233). Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get information in more than 170 languages. You will hear a recording and may have to wait for a short time. Hotline staff offer safety planning and crisis help.

Is Avoiding Arguing Really Possible?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

We are continuing our 21 Day Fast from Negative Words and this week the focus will be on arguing. The Lord gives very clear instructions throughout the Bible that those who know, love, and follow Him are not to argue, quarrel, or fight.

Oh, and don’t forget to comment on how you are doing with the fast. Let us know if you are stuck or need some prayer or encouragement, too.

The Lord instructs all believers in Christ not to argue or quarrel.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Phil. 2:14
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2
  • Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 2 Tim. 2:14

Sometimes conflict is inevitable. But arguing and quarreling CAN be avoided!

We need to be able to discuss, share, inform, request, and suggest things in our relationships. We even need to be able to appropriately confront sin, at times. We need to be able to state our opinions and desires respectfully. We need to be able to have important and unimportant discussions. Thankfully, we can do all of this without arguing with God’s help, wisdom, and power.

What Does It Mean to Argue or Quarrel?

Google Dictionary gives two definitions of arguing.

  1. give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.
2. exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.
In this post, we are talking about the second definition. Or about quarreling, squabbling, bickering, or fighting. We are not to pick fights. We are not to act foolishly, only caring about trying to force our own opinion and agenda on everyone with selfish motives. We are not to try to crush other people and hurt them to prove how “right” we are about something.

What Does It Mean to Discuss Something?

Google Dictionary gives three definitions of “discussion.” Here are two that are most pertinent to our conversation today.

  1. the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.
  2. a conversation or debate about a certain topic.
Note that with a discussion, there is no anger.
There is no attempt to hurt others or to “win at all costs.” It is a peaceful conversation about ideas, priorities, perspectives, and solutions. This is very freeing! We can discuss without tension at all – recognizing that the relationship is generally more important than the issue being discussed. The only time the issue is more important is if it is something about God or sin. And even then the Lord instructs us to handle those who oppose us gently and with respect, desiring the opponents to come to repentance, salvation, and right relationship with God (2 Tim. 2:25).
We can respectfully share and discuss our perspectives, ideas, desires, needs, and concerns. We don’t have to insult anyone or be rude. We don’t have to go after anyone with sinful anger, rage, hatred, or malice. We don’t have to be selfish. We can remain Spirit-filled, self-controlled, calm, and peaceful. We can treat others with honor, godly love, and respect as we act in our new nature in the Lord.
Yes, even if we disagree.

Why Do We Quarrel and Argue in Sinful Ways?

The Bible shares several reasons for the prevalence of quarreling among believers:

The Cure Is to Live in the Spirit with Love and Humility

The cure for quarreling, bickering, and fighting:

  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4
  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph. 4:2
  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
  • But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
  • But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
  • If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, Luke 17:3

In witnessing, there are times to stop. When people don’t want to hear the Gospel and they reject it and us, we move on. This will help avoid quarrels, as well:

  • Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matt. 7:6
  • And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Mark 6:11

But how in the world do I avoid arguing in practical ways when I live with sinful people who want to argue constantly? And how to I avoid arguing when I have my own sinful nature to contend with, as well?

Some Suggestions to Prayerfully Consider

To avoid arguing, there are some disciplines and things I need to pray about:

Some Verses about Avoiding Arguing and Quarreling:

From the New Testament:

  • As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Rom. 14:1
  • But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

From Proverbs:

  • Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Prov. 3:30
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. Prov. 19:13
  • It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Prov. 20:3
  • A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Prov. 29:11
  • A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. Prov. 29:22
  • Pressing anger produces strife. Prov. 30:33

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What are some things that have hit you in this post or in this series? How is your 21 day fast going? Do you need some encouragement or prayer? What has been the hardest part? Have you noticed any good fruit in your life or relationships?

Much love!

RELATED

We have been doing a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words inspired by this wife’s story. We started on Valentine’s Day and agreed that we would seek to avoid the following:

What Does It Mean to Accept Jesus As Your Personal Savior? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

Humility” by Andrew Murray

NOTE – If you are not safe, if someone is abusing you or threatening you or your children, please try to get to safety. Avoiding quarrels and arguments doesn’t mean we sit and take physical abuse or we just stay and let someone mistreat us terribly. Please reach out to proper authorities if you are not safe. Or you can contact www.thehotline.org if you are on a safe computer.

My Response to Insults Says a Lot about My Character

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Unfortunately, we will all be the targets of insults, at one time or another. Even Jesus faced intense criticism, insults, and terrible persecution. And He was God! He was completely perfect. And yet, so many people hated Him.

It hurts deeply to feel misunderstood, wrongly accused, berated, or verbally attacked.

Our knee-jerk response when we feel insulted is to get defensive. Or to go on an all-out offensive attack at the person who insulted or criticized us.

This topic could easily fill many books. This post is not a comprehensive guide to exactly what to do in every possible situation. It is a general overview. We will need the Word and God’s Spirit to give us the wisdom we need in individual scenarios.

There are two primary ways we can respond to insults for believers in Christ. The flesh or the Spirit.

Fleshly reactions to insults:

  • React in a spirit of offense, self-righteousness, and pride.
  • Vigorously defend myself and try to control and change what the other person thinks about me.
  • Attack the other person in sinful anger.
    • Malice – try to hurt the other person in any way possible, including physically, financially, socially, emotionally, etc…
    • Gossip about the other person.
    • Slander the other person.
    • Seek revenge.
    • Complain to other people about the person.
    • Passive-aggressively try to undermine and attack the person.
    • Triangulate with another person – take my offense to another person instead of to the one who hurt me.
  • Hold a grudge and bitterness against that person.
  • Retreat and hide in fear.
  • Freak out and worry.

Yes, it is very tempting to lash out and launch a swift “nuclear attack” when we feel insulted.

But what does it accomplish – other than to add to the emotional and spiritual carnage? And it separates us from fellowship with the Lord because it grieves the Holy Spirit.

What if there is a better way to respond? A way that honors the Lord and keeps from escalating the situation – as far as it depends on us? That is what I want to talk about together today.

What Is the Source?

I think it is important to remember what Jesus said about the source of what comes out of people’s mouths. 

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt. 12:33-37

It is super helpful to remember that what a person says reveals what is in that person’s heart. It really isn’t necessarily about me at all.

I need to avoid making the mistake of thinking that what people say must reflect me or be about me – or that what they say must be true automatically.

What people say is primarily about them. It is about their motives, hearts, and issues. It is about who is in control of their lives – the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

  • Some people are walking around all filled up with the sinful nature. When they get pressured by relationships or trials, the nastiness that is inside them comes spewing out all over whoever is around them.
  • Other people are walking around all filled up with the Holy Spirit. When they get pressured by relationships or trials, the fruit of the Spirit is what gushes out of them all over whoever is around them..

So I don’t have to take everything that other people say personally. This is so freeing!

I need to carefully weigh what people say vs. what God says. If the person’s words contain a godly rebuke, even if it wasn’t thoughtfully presented, then I can humbly receive that part and repent for any sin in my life or any wrong doing on my part. I can take anything constructive from what was said and invite God to use it to help me grow. But if the person’s words are not true, if they are not constructive, or if their words are from the enemy, I don’t need to absorb them.

Who is speaking?

I want to consider who is speaking the words. Is it a spiritually mature believer in Christ whom I trust and who loves me and wants God’s best for me? Is he/she attempting to give me a godly rebuke or constructive criticism that maybe I need to hear? Am I hearing this person accurately or am I misunderstanding something or assuming negative motives where there aren’t any? Do the person’s words align with the Bible?

Or is this person someone who is far from the Lord, as far as I know, and who has a lifestyle of insulting almost everyone? Is this someone Proverbs would classify as “a fool“? An unbeliever may speak some truth to me that I need to take to heart. But I want to be a lot more cautious about receiving words from someone acting in the flesh.

I also need to consider if the thing that I perceive to be an insult, actually isn’t one.

Responding to Insults with Wisdom

If I respond in the flesh to an insult by immediately vigorously defending myself to try to “make the other person understand” and make them change their minds about me, or if I respond by attacking the other person, I will often only pour gasoline on the fire. I can escalate the situation into a much worse situation with greater tension and greater wounds on both sides.

Godly responses to insults:

  • Restraint and self control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • Respect and honor for God, for the other person, and for self. (1 John 4:20)
  • Righteous anger toward sin, never sinful anger at a person. (Eph. 4:26)
  • Patience and understanding if the other person is deeply wounded or may have significant spiritual, emotional, physical or other kinds of problems, realizing the person is not okay and the insult is probably a symptom of their spiritual or physical condition. (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • Attempt to clear up any misunderstanding if there was one.
  • Diffuse the situation with appropriate humor – in certain situations.
  • Avoid assuming the absolute worst about the other person’s intentions without clear evidence.
  • Repent for any sin I have committed against the other person. (Matt. 5:23-24)
  • Sometimes ignoring it is the wisest thing to do, especially if the person is someone who is foolish or a scoffer and clearly just looking for a fight or is so prideful he/she is not open to listening to anyone else’s perspective. (Prov. 12:16)
  • Other times, addressing the underlying issue in the person’s heart, not the insult, itself, may be wise. (Prov. 26:5)
  • Bless the person. (Luke 6:28)
  • Recognize this may be an opportunity to witness, to share the gospel, and/or to shine for Christ. (2 Tim. 2:24-25)
  • Realize the real enemy is not the person but a spiritual enemy. I need to fight the real enemy with spiritual weapons. (Eph. 6:12)
  • Pray for God to work powerfully in the life of anyone who mistreats me, that they would come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord and that they would be regenerated and conformed to the image of Christ for God’s glory. (Luke 6:28)
  • Without a spirit of fear but with a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. (Deut. 31:6, 2 Tim. 1:7)
  • Sometimes humbly, respectfully confronting the sin – after I have dealt with any sin in my own life) is the best approach, if the person is sinning against me – especially if the person is a believer. (Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17)
  • Draw appropriate boundaries if someone continues on in unrepentant sin and is very toxic spiritually/emotionally. There are times when we warn someone once or twice and then need to have nothing to do with that person if they continue on sinning in certain sins (2 Tim. 3:1-5, Titus 3:10)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19

From a Reader:

When offended we must be calm and be slow to speak. And ask God to help us to not be offended. It’s our response to the insult that matters most. I really dealt hard with feeling like I was offended. Someone may joke or I may have taken what they said the wrong way. What God showed me is my response with gentleness and kindness, regardless of how I felt, is what matters most. I found out that when not responding negatively, the outcome has (often) been peace, and less arguments. Feeling offended led me to give mean, angry responses that were only damaging the person and myself. I was under conviction and now I feel so much better when I don’t react in the flesh.

What Does God Say about How I Should Respond to Insults?

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6

The one who corrects a mocker will bring abuse on himself; the one who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke the wise, and he will love you. Prov. 9:7-8

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. Prov. 12:16

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Prov. 14:29

A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. Prov. 18:7

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. Prov. 20:22

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Prov. 26:4-5 (Meaning – don’t stoop to a fool’s level and react in the flesh. But you may need to wisely answer to keep him from becoming more conceited.)

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:28

 

If I Am Insulted for My Faith in Christ

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 1 Tim. 3:12

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Pet. 4:12-14

I want to see us respond to insults without fear, without pride, without a spirit of offense, without bitterness or resentment, and without lashing out and hurting others. I want to see us respond in the power of the Spirit and with the mind and heart of Christ!

Those unbelievers who insult us may be future brothers and sisters in Christ! God may desire us to help pray them into His Kingdom. They are people Jesus loves and for whom He died.

In the next post, we will talk about avoiding insulting others.

SHARE

What wisdom have you learned about responding well to insults? We’d love to hear about it. What are your thoughts on today’s post? And how is your 21 day fast from negative words going? It’s not too late to start if you would like!

RELATED

What Is an Insult? (And just as importantly, what is not an insult?)

A Critical Spirit VS a Godly Rebuke

When Should You Answer a Fool? by www.lifehopeandtruth.com

How Should a Christian Respond to Bullying? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Dealing with Difficult People? – by www.gotquestions.org

25 Ways to Respect Myself

My Identity in Christ – the only source of my security, peace, joy, fulfillment, and purpose!

Responding to Insults, Criticisms, and Rebukes

Prayer for Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands  – by Radiant

Got an Angry Man? – by Nina Roesner

Quick Tip for Handling an Angry Husband – by Nina Roesner

Do I Have a Spirit of Offense?

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ – VIDEO

How Does the Bible Describe a Fool? by www.gotquestions.org

 

What Is an Insult?

Photo by Marc Schäfer on Unsplash

We are continuing our 21 Day Fast from Negative Words that we started on Valentine’s Day. You are welcome to join any time and start your 21 days whenever you like.

Last week, we talked a lot about complaining – what it is , what it isn’t, how we can avoid it, and what to replace it with.

This week, we are diving into the topic of insults. I want to cover some important issues like:

  • What is an insult? And what is not an insult?
  • How can we avoid insulting others?
  • How can we respond wisely to insults?
  • How God can use what people intend for evil against us for His good purposes?

Today, let’s talk about what an insult is – and what it is not.

What Is an Insult?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  • transitive verb – to treat with insolence, indignity, or contempt : AFFRONT also : to affect offensively or damagingly
  • noun – a gross indignity
  • synonyms – OFFEND, OUTRAGE, AFFRONT, INSULT mean to cause hurt feelings or deep resentment. OFFEND need not imply an intentional hurting but it may indicate merely a violation of the victim’s sense of what is proper or fitting. OUTRAGE implies offending beyond endurance and calling forth extreme feelings. AFFRONT implies treating with deliberate rudeness or contemptuous indifference to courtesy.  INSULT suggests deliberately causing humiliation, hurt pride, or shame.

From a Few of My Amazing Readers:

  • An insult is something that may or may not be true, and is said with the intent to harm or discourage the receiver. Constructive criticism is something that also may or may not be true, but it said with the intent to encourage the receiver to take the comment to God to determine whether changes truly need to be made.
  • It takes courage to speak truth in love. If something is said to insult or be nasty there’s no courage in that, there’s no empathy or concern how the word will affect the other person. That’s the main way I know how to tell the difference.
  • My first thought is that an insult is meant to tear down, while constructive criticism/rebuke comes from a desire to encourage & build up. Really, it boils down to the intent of our hearts and how spiritually prepared we are before we share. Also, I’m learning that no matter how spiritually prepared I am or how respectful I communicate in words, tone of voice & body language, I cannot control the other person’s response. That is theirs to own.
  • Another thought.. Trying to offer constructive criticism/rebuke via social media is oftentimes counter-productive and we are the only ones who end up angry and hurt. Being selective in what I post and what I comment on, as well as knowing when to just end the conversation (by not continuing to post) are all things that have helped me.

My Thoughts:

We insult someone when we purposely intend to verbally wound someone.

When we insult others, we are disrespectful, hateful, malicious, or rude with our words – or even with our actions. Our intentions are destructive, not loving. We seek to hurt the person, not bless them.

This is a sin issue.

Our motives may include resentment, bitterness, pride, self-righteousness, assuming the worst about someone else’s intentions or motives toward us, malice, hatred, fear, misunderstanding, disrespect, control, manipulation, sinful jealousy, sinful anger, self-defense, a desire to elevate self at another’s expense, etc…

Insults break fellowship, destroy trust,  create division, foster strife, and hurt the gospel, the witness of believers, and the body of Christ. They grieve God’s Spirit.

God’s Word Tells Us Not to Insult Others

  • Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. James 4:11
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18
  • Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Prov. 11:12
  • Love does no harm to a neighbor. Rom. 13:10

Note – if someone makes a threat, that is much worse than an insult. If someone suggests they will cause you or someone else bodily harm, please reach out to appropriate authorities and get help as soon as it is safe to do so. No one should have to be in danger.

What Things Are Not Insults?

Now here is where it can get dicey. Sometimes an insult can be rather subjective. The hearer may feel offended and insulted – when there was no intent to hurt or offend them.

The things below are not insults when shared with the proper spirit and motives:

  • Having different religious beliefs.
  • Sharing a different opinion.
  • Stating facts.
  • Having different personal convictions.
  • Sharing uncomfortable, unpopular truth (i.e.: from Scripture).
  • Standing firmly against anything God calls sin and even humbly, respectfully, firmly confronting sin when appropriate.
  • Godly rebukes or constructive criticism.
  • A person in a position of God-given leadership seeking to lead those in his/her care (in ways that are not sinful).
  • Enforcing a healthy boundary with someone who is unrepentant or hurtful and who won’t change even when he/she knows the other person is hurt.
  • Speaking up about feeling hurt, mistreated, ignored, pressured, controlled, smothered, etc…
  • Sharing my legitimate needs and concerns.
  • Sharing my desires in a vulnerable, direct way.
  • Saying, “No,” to someone’s request.
  • Deciding not to trust someone who has broken my trust and who is unwilling to re-establish trust.
  • Not associating with someone who professes to be a believer in Christ but who is living in certain kinds of unrepentant sin – like sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, divisiveness, or fraud/swindling (1 Cor. 5:10-12).
  • Breaking fellowship between myself and a professing brother/sister in Christ who is repeatedly divisive (Titus 3:10-11).

Unfortunately, there are times when others are trying to share important information – information that may be very beneficial, good, or even life-saving – but some will take offense and feel insulted/attacked and then react defensively or offensively – often out of misunderstanding, fear, or pride.

Some are afraid of rejection, conflict, disapproval from others, condemnation, etc… Others’ pride blinds them to believe that they truly believe they are “above” needing correction from anyone. They believe they are always right – like I did for so many years.

Sometimes a person:

  • Purposely insults another with the intent to harm.
  • Says something the hearer perceives to be an insult, but the speaker did not have harmful intentions, and may have actually had constructive or even loving intentions.

We will be talking about how to respond rightly to insults – and perceived insults – in the next post.

Pray with Me

Lord,

This is such a painful, difficult, muddy subject for many of us. But it is something we all need to understand. We all need Your wisdom, discernment, and Light about how to tell what an insult is – and what it is not. And we all need Your Spirit’s power to help us respond in Your ways to insults and to keep ourselves from insulting others. We invite Your Spirit to work in mighty ways in us this week. Illuminate our minds. Soften our hearts to Your voice. Grant us ears to hear and eyes to see Your spiritual treasures. Show us any areas where we are holding onto toxic sin that is destroying us. And help us to repent of it and allow You to transform our hearts and minds by the power of Your Word and truth. Your truth sets us free!

Amen!

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What wisdom have you learned about how to define an insult? What is the difference between an insult and constructive criticism?

Thanks so much for walking this road with me. I’m excited that we can encourage one another along the way and seek to point each other to greater faith in Jesus. May we all be open to all the spiritual treasures He has for us this week!

 

Much love!

 

RELATED

What Does the Bible Say about Insults?

What Does the Bible Say about Rebuking?

What Are Boundaries, and Are They Biblical? by www.gotquestions.org

A Critical Spirit VS a Godly Rebuke

Do I Have a Spirit of Offense?

Am I His Prosecuting Attorney?

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

My Husband Blamed Me for ALL the Problems in Our Marriage – by The Satisfied Wife

An Amazing Resource – Nina Roesner’s eCourse “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity”

Becoming Fearless

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

8 Practical Tips to Put the Brakes on Complaining

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

8 Tips to Nip Complaining in the Bud

1. Replace negative thoughts with thankful ones. Think about good things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8

2. Focus on praising God in your thoughts and with songs. 

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Ps. 115:1

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Ps. 100:1-2

3. Memorize and meditate on Scripture.

I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Ps. 77:12

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps. 119:11

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. Ps. 119:99


4. Invite God to use the negative things in your life to help you grow in spiritual maturity, to bless others, and to bring glory to His Name.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Rom. 5:3-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

NOTE – If you are not safe. If you are in an abusive or dangerous situation, these verses don’t mean to just sit there and take abuse if you have the power to leave. We have a responsibility to get somewhere safe and to keep our children safe if there are actions we can take.


5. Avoid negative input from other people (when possible), from media, music, movies, books, etc… and replace the negative input with healthy, wholesome, Christ-honoring input that will feed my soul. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:2


6. Journal about my journey or have an accountability partner. 

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Eccl. 4:12


7. Make it a group project at church, in the family, at work, in the neighborhood, with friends, or wherever.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Heb. 10:24


8. As soon as I mess up, I need to repent and get right back up and invite God to continue to make me more like Jesus. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 

Added Bonuses When I Stop My Habit of Complaining about Every Little Thing:

  • There is more peace in my relationships.
  • I have more peace in my own heart and mind.
  • I can be closer to the Lord.
  • It’s easier for my husband to lead.
  • I have a much more powerful witness for Jesus.
  • I am more fun to be around for everyone.
  • I have more joy.
  • I am more attractive to my husband.
  • I don’t annoy myself as much.

SHARE

What tips do you have to share to help us all avoid complaining?

What bonuses have you noticed when you cut way back on a complaining spirit?

RELATED

Complaining VS Informing – We do need to be able to share important things. Thankfully, we can do that without complaining!

Other posts about complaining

If I Stop the Negative Talk – What on Earth Will I Talk about?

17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully

I Can’t Ask for Things. I Can’t Have Needs, Desires or Emotions. – by Radiant

I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs. That’s the Godly Thing to Do. – No! Sometimes we do need to engage in conflicts and disagreements. But, thankfully, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do that without sinning.

Some Conflict Is Inevitable 

I Don’t Want to Lose My Voice, My Power, or My Identity!  

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No – Sharing our desires vulnerably

 

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Jesus:

Of course the foundational thing – before I can do anything good – is I need to have Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I’d like to share the “ABC’s of Salvation.”

I need to:

1. ADMIT I am a sinner and there is nothing I can do to make myself in right relationship with the One true holy God of the universe.

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23

2. BELIEVE that Jesus, God in the flesh, left the glory of heaven, came to this world to live the perfect life I couldn’t live and die the death I deserved for my sin in my place. He conquered sin, death, and the grave on my behalf and was raised on the 3rd day.

  • “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23

3. CONFESS that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord and give my whole life and everything in my life to Him. He is now in charge not me and I will follow Him for the rest of my life.

  • “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9
  • And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Cor. 5:15
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21

RELATED

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is the Gospel? by www.gotquestions.org

 

Much love!

What Is the Difference Between Complaining and Informing?

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash
Avoiding complaining can get a bit fuzzy, at times. There are situations where we need to inform those around us about important things they need to know. How can we discern the difference between complaining vs. informing?
 
Let’s hash through this a bit together.

About Complaining – from www.gotquestions.org:

The Greek word translated “complainer” means literally “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” It is akin to the word grumbler. Complaining is certainly not a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and, in fact, is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that come from the Spirit. For the Christian, complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult. Who, for instance, would be attracted to a religion whose adherents are dissatisfied with life and who continually grumble and complain?
Clearly, as believers we are challenged not to grumble or complain (Philippians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 4:9); rather, we are to love one another deeply so that we may become “blameless and pure” in God’s eyes. If we grumble and complain, it shows how worldly we still are (James 4:1-3). A complaining spirit leads to fighting and quarrelling because complaints come from unfulfilled desires, which lead to envy and strife.

How Can I Tell If What I Want to Say Is Complaining or Informing?

My thoughts:

Complaining is primarily about focusing on the negative about circumstances, people, or perceived negatives about God. It is about communicating a lack of gratitude and a lack of faith in the Lord. A complainer is not looking for solutions, but just wants to spread negativity and discontent. The information shared is not something that the hearers need – or want – to know. And, sadly, a complaining spirit is very contagious.

Informing is primarily about sharing important information that the other person needs to know. We may need to share our desires about certain things. We need to share if we are physically, emotionally, or spiritually so unwell that we need help from a specific person. And we need to share, with the right people, if someone else is not okay and he/she needs help.

From four of my wonderful readers (shared with their permission):

  • I think complaining assigns blame, seeks sympathy and usually doesn’t solve anything. The hearer may not need the information at all. Informing seeks solutions and is intended to benefit the hearer by giving them needed information.
  • I look at this way, “First, can it change?” If it can, “does it need to?” And then, “how can I say it in such a way that isnt received as competition?” A lot of concerns come out as “I’m better than you.” Or “At least I do the dishes” when in reality we just want to be appreciated and have our concerns heard.
  • I think it’s all wrapped in the words you use. Instead of saying, “Why do “you” always leave the toilet seat up after “you” go?”   The  better approach would be, “Honey, guess what almost happened to me last night, I almost sat right down into the toilet “…  then ask can we work together to think of a way we could possibly remember to put the seat back down? (This has actually happened to me long ago.) When I made “you” statements, it was complaining. When I made the “we” statements, it included us as a couple/team. Working together for our good. My husband didn’t want me to fall or get wet. It was just a habit he had.  Talking and agreeing on a problem brings resolve. Not pent up frustration that steams and brews until it becomes a screaming match.  Love isn’t like that. Moral of my story:  We agreed to put both the seat and the lid down after using the toilet. Happy endings prevail where love abounds!!😍
  • This scripture impacted me recently. Both complaining about OR withholding the truth of what is going on in our lives can be detrimental. If speaking the truth of our circumstances could lead others to eventually rejoice in God’s deliverance, then it is worth telling. Here, Paul is neither complaining nor withholding:

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:8-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/59/2co.1.8-11.esv

 

I think it is helpful to look at my heart, motives, and scripture as I try to decide if what I want to share is complaining or informing.

Complaining:

  • Am I saying negative things about God, assuming He has evil motives or speaking wrongly about His good character?
  • Am I condemning other people or highlighting their sins to people who aren’t involved and who don’t need to know?
  • Am I walking in a lack of gratitude?
  • How often do I talk about the problem? Is it a continual habit?
  • Am I gossipping? Meaning, am I sharing negative information about others in order to make others thing poorly of someone else or to try to make myself look better than someone else?
  • Do I tell lots of people, even those who can’t do anything to help the situation?
  • Is this simply an annoyance that I could/should overlook?
  • Am I focused on my own personal preferences/comfort more than biblical principals/God’s glory?
  • Am I trying to control something that is not in the realm of my responsibilities?
  • Is this something I need to accept and invite God to use it to change me? What if this trial is an answer to my prayers to help me grow spiritually? Or is it something I have a responsibility to change?
  • Am I encouraging others to complain, to be afraid, to not trust God, or to be upset?
  • Am I attacking or criticizing others?
  • Am I looking for genuine help and resolution of the problem, or do I just want attention and sympathy?
  • Are my motives wrong? Do my words spring from envy, sinful jealousy, selfishness, self-righteousness, gossip, pride, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, malice, idolatry of someone/something (codependency), fault-finding, a critical spirit perfectionism, people pleasing, playing the martyr, fear, a desire to control, assuming the worst motives of others or God, unbelief in God/lack of faith, etc…?
  • What is my goal? Am I trying to resolve something that is resolvable? Or do I just want to say negative things just to say them – and I am not really looking for a solution?

Informing:

  • Do I simply want to make my needs known to God and – in faith – ask for His help and provision?
  • Do I have a legitimate need or problem and am I looking to the person (or people) who can truly help me?
  • Am I seeking only to tell people who actually need to know about the situation?
  • Is my problem a significant one that I can’t handle on my own?
  • Am I asking for things or sharing my perspective or the information I want to share respectfully?
  • Is the problem something that can change and that is my responsibility to try to change?
  • How often am I talking about the problem? Just enough to tell the person who can help me?
  • Is this issue something that grieves God’s heart and something God instructs me to attempt to correct?
  • Are my motives right? Do I seek to get the problem fixed in a way that honors the Lord?
  • Am I acting in divine (1 Cor. 13:4-8 style) love for God and for others?
  • Am I pointing others and myself to trust God, to love others, and to have greater faith?
  • Will my sharing this information spur others on to greater faith in the Lord? Will it help them grow spiritually?
  • Am I reverencing the Lord, respecting other people (my husband, my children, and others), and respecting myself in the situation?

Our pastor said something interesting yesterday,

“Lack of gratitude is the first step toward idolatry.”

Obviously, if we don’t trust and thank the Lord, we are going to look to other things to trust. We must guard our hearts carefully against this tendency, my precious sisters!

Lord,

We need Your clear wisdom, guidance, Word, and Spirit to help us discern rightly in this – and every – area. Help us to see our motives clearly. Help us to long to honor You in our thoughts, attitudes, motives, words, and actions. Help us to receive Your Spirit’s power to walk in holiness because we can’t do this on our own. Change us, Lord! Make us more like Jesus.

Amen!

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What do you think? How do you believe we can discern between complaining and informing? We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments. Thanks for being on this amazing journey with me.
And let us know how your 21 day fast from negative words is going. It’s not to late to join if you would like to!
RELATED
Complaining rewires our brains, adversely impacts our health, damages the way others think of us, and hurts our relationships. No wonder the Lord doesn’t want us to live like this!
What Does the Bible Say about Complaining? – by www.gotquestions.org
Faith VS Fear – What Does the Bible Say? – by www.gotquestions.org

If a Friend Complains, Shouldn’t I Commiserate?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
I received a great question from a wife about what to do when someone else complains. She said she normally would complain about her life, too, so the person would feel she could understand them and they wouldn’t feel alone. And she worried that if they said they were really tired and she didn’t tell them she was really tired, too, that they would maybe feel like she thought her life was better or that she would come across as being rude in some way.
This is a really important issue! I’m super excited it has been brought up.
 
We can empathize and sympathize with others if they are sick, tired, upset, etc… But we don’t have to complain about our lives, too.
 
If a friend/coworker/customer says she is really tired, I can say:
  • “I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds tough.”
  • “Oh, no. I hate that you are so exhausted. That’s no fun.”
  • “Hey, is there anything I can do to help?”
 
I do think that one reason women tend to complain about our husbands together is this very thing. Many women want their friends to feel like they understand them and can relate. So if one wife complains about her husband, the others will join in. We don’t want other women to feel isolated or abandoned. We want them to know we all have similar struggles.
It’s a good thing to want to be a supportive friend.
 
But a negative, grumbling, complaining spirit about our husbands (and other things) hurts us. It hurts the way we think of our husbands. It hurts our marriages. It hurts our friendships. It hurts our relationship with other coworkers or our boss – if we complain about them. It hurts our ability to witness effectively for Jesus. It grieves the heart of God. And it stunts our ability to be thankful and to live by faith in God. So we need to be cautious about this, my precious sisters.
 

If a Friend Has Significant Issues Going on:

If a friend begins to complain about her husband, I can empathize that she is feeling upset. “I’m so sorry things have been frustrating. That sounds really discouraging.” And then I can pray and invite God to give me wisdom about how to be an encouragement to her. Depending on the situation and how close of a relationship we have, maybe I can:
  • Listen and hear her heart and pain. Try to understand the situation.
  • Validate her feelings.
  • Relate to her struggle. (Without complaining about or disrespecting anyone in my life.)
  • Pray with her about the situation and invite God into the situation to work for His glory.
  • Do a spiritual checkup with her to be sure she is receiving good things from God.
  • Possibly share some things I have learned that have helped me in similar situations.
  • Offer insights or possible helpful resources as the Lord leads.
  • Make sure she is safe – if she is facing abuse or something truly awful, she may need more help and resources for a very difficult situation.

It depends on the relationship – and how much time we have – how we would approach another woman in this situation. Ultimately, we will need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to give us exactly the right words to share in each scenario. We want women to feel validated and supported. And then we want to be able to point them to the hope that is available to them in Christ. We may even be able to witness and share the gospel with them if they don’t know the Lord. Or if they know the Lord already, but are struggling with faith, we may be able to encourage them to yield to His Lordship. God may help us see exactly what they need.

Some women may be open to some positive new suggestions from us. Especially those who are really close to us. Others would not be. Some may be offended if we try to encourage them to look for good things in their lives. We can’t force anyone to change her thinking. We can invite them to. But if they clearly don’t want to, we can respect their decision. That is their choice to make. We can back away.

If a Friend Has a Pretty Good Situation, but Just Has a Habit of Complaining

Some women in our lives may not have big problems in their lives or marriages, they may just be in a bad habit of thinking and talking about only negative things. In a situation like that, I may be able to gently mention some blessings she has in her life, or encourage her to think about the good things in her life. I may even invite her – in a sweet, friendly way – to join me on a fast from negative words. Who knows, she may be excited about it!

If Someone Is Very Emotionally/Spiritually Toxic

Sadly, there are some people who are so negative and toxic, we need to be careful about how much influence we allow them to have on our lives. They could easily drag us down. There are times when we may have to distance ourselves from those who insist on focusing on complaining, resentment, bitterness, hatred, negativity, insults, arguing, etc… If someone encourages me to resent my husband or to think and speak in negative ways about him, my life, other people, my job, or the Lord, that can be a problem. If someone tries to divide my marriage or other relationships, I want to be very cautious.
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10
  • Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Cor. 15:33
  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Prov. 13:20
  • A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. Prov. 16:28
  • Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Prov. 17:9
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Prov. 22:24-25
 
Let’s seek to bring the God’s joy, peace, and a spirit of thanksgiving into our homes, workplaces, and relationships. This is part of how we can be salt and light!
 
How is the 3 week fast from negative words going for you so far? We’d love to hear about your experience.
 
Much love!

RELATED VERSES

  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18
  • And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28
  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

RELATED POSTS

Other posts about complaining

If I Stop the Negative Talk – What on Earth Will I Talk about?

How Does Bad Company Corrupt Good Character? www.gotquestions.org

Is It Good to Have Close Friendships with Unbelievers? www.gotquestions.org

A Wife Begins a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words

Join Me for a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words

When a Husband Is Negative, Critical, or Hurtful

Prayers for Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands – by Radiant

11 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Skimp on Praising and Thanking God

For emotionally destructive friendships or extended family relationships, please check out Leslie Vernick’s resources here.

Join Me for a 3 Week Fast from Negative Words!

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
A wife inspired me with her story earlier this week. I’d love to invite us ALL to do a fast similar to the one she decided to do.

THE CHALLENGE

Let’s seek to avoid the following for the next 21 days:
  • Destructive criticism
  • Insults
    • including sarcastic or “joking” ones
  • Complaining
  • Arguing

A Critical, Judgmental Spirit Destroys Others and Ourselves

Our goal is to LIVE the Christian life, not just to have head knowledge of it.
So let’s invite the Lord, Himself, into our words to show us what His will is for us regarding how we use our mouths. First, let’s avoid hurtful, destructive criticism – the kind of negative words designed to tear others down. Those kinds of words don’t benefit anyone. They hurt our relationships. They hurt people. And they grieve God’s heart.
There is such a thing as constructive criticism and there is such a thing as a wise, godly rebuke. These are good things when used rightly and with right motives. We all need to receive loving feedback about our blind spots at times.
From www.gotquestions.org about a critical spirit:
Jesus is not saying that we should not be discerning or that we should ignore the fallen nature of the world. He is also not saying that we must never, under any circumstance, criticize anyone else. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are to judge rightly (John 7:24). However, we are not to criticize with malicious intent or out of pride, hypocrisy, or self-righteousness. We cannot assume that we are impartial or that we can fairly exact our standards on others. Humans have naturally deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) that allow for blind spots and inappropriate comparisons. Only God can judge with perfect accuracy (Hebrews 4:12; James 4:11-12; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:11). And our discernment is only valid when it is informed by a renewed nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 16:13). Only when we are submitted to Christ and honest with ourselves will our judgment serve to edify rather than destroy.
Critical words spring from a critical heart. And a critical heart generally comes from a misunderstanding of God’s grace—either due to pride or a simple lack of information about God’s character and the meaning of salvation. Only when we understand our depravity apart from God and the depth of His grace will we be able to bestow grace to others (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Colossians 2:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-10).
  • You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matt. 7:5
  • Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

Insults Deeply Wound Others

Our words have “the power of life and death” according to scripture (Prov. 18:21). What we say matters. There are two primary commands Jesus gives us. The first is that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. The second is that we are to love other people as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40). Then Jesus connects the two. We learn that He counts the way we treat other people, even the least of them, as the way we treat Him (Matt. 25:31-46). And in 1 John, we learn that “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

So what we speak to people in our every day lives matters. A lot. Let’s invite God to help us stop using our words as weapons to cut others down and to stop speaking death to people – and even to ourselves.

  • Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Pet. 3:9
  • Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Prov. 11:12
  • A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. Prov. 12:16
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18

Complaining and Negativity Hurt Our Witness for Christ

When we complain and highlight all that is wrong with life and focus on bad things, we reveal a lack of trust in the Lord and unbelief in our hearts. God calls us to live lives of thanksgiving in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). He calls us to focus our minds on Him and on all of the good things and blessings we can find (Phil. 4:8).

One of the things that stirred God’s anger the most against the people of Israel in the wilderness was their tendency to complain and grumble. They complained to Moses, but ultimately, their real complaint was against God. They didn’t believe He would take good care of them. They didn’t believe He was able to provide well for them. They didn’t trust His heart toward them or His plan. They didn’t come to Him with their needs and ask for help humbly and respectfully by faith. They accused God of evil motives and said He must be too weak to help or save them. That was not remotely the case!

Even now for believers in Christ, if we choose to complain and grumble about our lot in life, we hurt our walk with the Lord and we destroy our witness for Him. How can anyone be drawn to Jesus if we are so dissatisfied with Him and we don’t trust Him, ourselves? God is not saying we can’t ask Him for help. We absolutely can! And we can ask others for help, too, when we need to, and it is appropriate. But for believers in Christ, there is no room in our lives for complaining. We are to live lives of faith. Faith doesn’t complain – it trust God and seeks Him, inviting Him into the situation to do something glorious.

We also need to remember that God intends to use our trials to help us grow in our faith and spiritual maturity. The thing I am complaining about may be the answer to my prayers that God has sent to help me grow. Not that we should try to find suffering or put ourselves in suffering. But as a believer, I should have a totally different outlook on annoying and difficult things. They may be spiritual tests. They may be discipline for me to grow in my faith. They may be opportunities for God to do something amazing. In Christ, I can learn to count even my trials as joy. I can keep an eternal perspective rather than get wrapped up in the moment.

  • Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 1 Cor. 10:10
  • Do everything without grumbling and arguing,  so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation,among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life. Phil. 2:14-16
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Pet. 4:9

Arguing Is Ineffective, Detrimental, and  Unnecessary,  for a Believer

We can get our points across and have a voice, especially as we share things we know will honor and please the Lord. We can share the truth in love, using God’s wisdom and discernment. We can speak up against things that are wrong in God’s eyes. And we can do all of this without being argumentative, fighting, or involving sinful anger – IF we act in the power of the Spirit of God.

  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2

The Ultimate Goal

We can’t do any of this in our own power. But if we belong to Jesus, we can invite Him to give us the power we need to control our words – and even to control our thoughts. That is the end goal. Total heart, mind, and life change by the power of Christ.
  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
  • Walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
 

Pray with Me

Lord,
We love You and want to love You so much more. More than anything or anyone else. More than even ourselves. Jesus, if You are our Lord, it means we are to submit every part of our lives to Your authority and control. Our words are often our area of greatest weakness, Lord. Our words reveal the hidden motives of our hearts. They demonstrate whether our sinful nature is in control or Your Spirit is in control. We want You to be in firm control of our mouths, words, and even our thoughts! We repent of our sinful words. Our words of condemnation, judgment, destructive criticism, grumbling, arguing, complaining, negativity, and insults. These things wound Your heart. They grieve You. They break our fellowship with You. We repent of these sinful words – and the sinful thoughts that birthed them. We want to take up our cross today and follow You. We crucify our sinful nature and all of its thoughts and words on the cross with Jesus. We receive Your new life and new nature for us. Thank You that You will empower us to walk in Your ways and to offer our mouths and words to You to use as instruments of righteousness rather than offering them to the enemy and sin to use to destroy others, hurt you, and destroy ourselves.
Let us act in Your wisdom with our words and let us use our words to speak Your Life – not death!
Amen!

Share Your Experience!

 
Let us know how things are going and if you notice anything different in your own walk with the Lord and your relationships.  Also, check in with us if you need some encouragement!
 
 
Much love!

My Desire for Marriages

Photo by Marius Muresan on Unsplash

It’s important to know what someone’s end goals are if you are considering following his/her advice or teaching. And it is important to know from what source the teacher derives authority to teach. Is it the Bible – the infallible Word of God? Or is it self, human wisdom, popular psychology, or something else?

I write for women, so I focus a lot on our piece of the puzzle. But what is my goal for marriages overall? What is the big picture in my mind as I write?

The biggest thing is I want to see us all seek to live for and honor the Lord in every thought, motive, word, and deed.

I want to see us all live for Christ and obey His instructions for us.

I long to see:

Both Spouses:

Husbands:

Wives:

Marriages:

Children:

  • Witness godly examples in their parents and have security in their homes so they can be well-prepared for godly marriages and parenting themselves, in the future.
  • Treat both parents with honor and respect. (Eph. 6:1-4)
  • Obey parents (unless parents tell child to clearly sin against God’s Word). (Col. 3:20)

Everyone in the family:

  • Know and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Be safe at home – emotionally, financially, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
  • Avoid all kinds of mistreatment, sin against anyone else, and abuse – husbands, wives, and children.
  • Seek to turn from anything God calls sin – every single kind of sin, even in the thoughts/motives – to His holy ways.
  • To repent from sin to the Lord and to those we hurt.
  • Extend grace and forgiveness to each other, knowing how much grace, mercy, and forgiveness we have each received from God, and to rebuild any broken trust.
  • Reject the world’s ways and lies.
  • Cherish masculinity and femininity and celebrate the differences.
  • Be conformed to the image of Christ by the power of God. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • Shine for Christ and be the salt and light that is so desperately needed in this dark, decaying world. (Matt. 5:13-14Phil. 2:14-16)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

Why Do I Only Teach Women?

I do this out of respect for God’s Word. There are two places in the New Testament that say that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the church.

However, the older women are to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5) about being godly wives and mothers. That is my calling from the Lord!

Greg and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage in May of this year. I long to share the treasures God has shown me with my sisters. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago when God first opened my eyes to just how ungodly I was as a woman, wife, and mom.

I am not perfect. I still have so much to learn myself, but I am changed. God has dramatically transformed me and continues to work in my heart, mind, and life. My hope is to share things the Lord has shown me so that it might be an easier road for those who come behind me than it was for me.

Much love in Christ!

RELATED

The Purpose of Marriage

What Should Be Different about a Christian Marriage? by www.gotquestions.org

The Danvers Statement – a statement of faith and belief about God’s biblical design for marriage

Spiritual Authority – God’s design for every area of life for believers

Are Women Morally and Spiritually Superior to Men?

Are Women Inferior to Men in God’s Eyes?

Where do Rage, Hatred, and Violence Fit into Our Lives As Believers in Christ?

What Does the Bible Say about Domestic Violence? by www.gotquestions.org

HOW TO FIND SPIRITUAL LIFE AND SALVATION IN JESUS CHRIST

What Is the Gospel?

What Is Lordship Salvation?

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

 

 

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