Speechless. Flabbergasted. I walked away from that brief one-sided conversation at church, not knowing if I should laugh or cry. Why would this person say something like that to me? I know his particular personality, quick-witted and humorous, always with something funny to say. I knew his comment was most likely not intended to ruin my day or cause me mental grief for the next few years. So, after obsessively dwelling on it all afternoon, I ended up having a conversation with myself and told myself I needed to lighten up.
As a pastor’s wife, I realize that sometimes I can be too sensitive about what church people say. Sometimes, I take every comment too personally. I have found myself offended and hurt by what really is a meaningless comment about me, my husband or my kids. These comments are usually from loving people within our church family, who most likely are just trying to make light conversation and mean nothing by it.
I continue to learn as the years go by not to hold on to any word that is not beneficial to me or my family. Most people don’t mean harm. How many times have I said something I regretted or something that was not helpful? Many times. I have found myself being a lot more aware and careful with my own words with others because I know the power of words for good or for harm.
As a teen, I memorized Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
This verse continually challenges me in my speech to others. We all ought to be seasoning our words with love, grace and encouragement. Our words have the power to bring life or death. And I don’t know about you, but I want my words to bring life to someone!
God has reminded me of a few things to help me in how I deal with criticism or unwanted comments:
- We should learn to laugh at ourselves. Sometimes we just need to play along. Humor helps us bond with others, lifts our spirits and reduces stress and anxiety.
- We should pray for our own attitudes and responses. We all have one of “those days” sometimes. And we need to respond to others with utmost respect, love and grace.
- We should consider the source of the comment or criticism. I remember a comment made to me about my personal life and I was quickly reminded that this person was someone who I didn’t know and didn’t know me; therefore, I dismissed it and did not allow myself to dwell on it or ruin my day.
Being a minister’s spouse means we are privileged to hear a lot of sweet, encouraging words. Most church people are quick to smile, give hugs, love on our children and show their appreciation in so many ways! But, every now and then, a critical word or comment may come our way or our spouse’s way. It’s up to us to decide if we will respond to them with love, grace and respect.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11