Today’s Our Daily Bread devotional talked about being concerned about what we “chew on” – what we mull over in our minds, what we meditate on, think about, dwell on, even obsess about. https://odb.org/2018/06/02/the-chewing-years/
I see in my own life what I think about GREATLY impacts my attitude and therefore my emotional bent every day.
If I keep thinking about painful past incidents with people, I, in essence, encase myself in an emotional filter of offense and victimhood. This predisposes me to feeling overly sensitive to interactions with others who may not be approaching me in that way at all! People begin to treat us the way we teach them to treat us by how we treat them, by what behaviors and words we respond to them with and what we accept from them when we’re together.
If we take offense at every comment, looking for a slight in something they’ve said or done, they will either avoid us for fear of offending us - or they could continue with the way they talk to us, seeing how we’re going to twist the next thing we say. Either way it builds distance not togetherness in any relationship. It’s a much better alternative NOT to respond in avoidance or retaliation and instead respond with understanding and patient kindness. I heard recently that the goal should not be “tolerance”, but loving acceptance. You can accept a person and their inherent value as a person without agreeing with everything they say or believe. Once people understand that you respect and them, they become open to discuss what one of my friends calls “the tough conversations” .
People need to be able to speak to us about difficult situations to build a deeper relationship by resolving possible conflict. Our conversations don’t need to be a tug of war to see who’s right and who’s wrong. We can share different perspectives and see the value on a bunch of different ideas. When the basis of our relationship is respectful, we can have discussions about disagreements or differing perspectives, without feeling threatened or dismissed.
Think about what you’re thinking about. If you’re not believing the best of every person (1 Corinthians 13), saying things to build them up (Ephesians 4:29), and filling your conversations gracious encouragement ((Colossians 4:6), then you’ll need to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” to overcome a negative, accusatory train of thought in order to see positive change in your relationships. It’s hard to change negative thought patterns, BUT IT’S WORTH IT for the results you’ll get. Let us all remember, “you reap what you sow”. If you sow offense, accusation and intolerance, you will receive those things in return. If you sow understanding, forgiveness and compassion, those things will come back to you. Most of the time J Give it a chance! See what happens. The choice begins with you – today! J