We need to talk. We need to gossip about gossiping. Matthew 12:36-37 tells us this:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Communication. Society generally speaking communicates with the intent to respond in conversational dialogue. We seldom listen with the genuine intent to actually hear, interpret, and receive the intended message. For this reason; wars happen, marriages end, and business relationships dissolve. How can we as a society more effectively resolve this disconnect?
When engaged in conversation, debate, or conflict, step outside of the conversation and view it from the perspective of observation. When you observe, what do you see? Did you respond the way you wanted to? Words, unfortunately, can not be taken back. Did you genuinely listen with the intent to hear and understand the person or were you just waiting for them to finish speaking so that you could begin with responding? Did you work to resolve the conflict or did you lose your mind, patience, and attitude in the midst of it? I think for many, we probably have cringe worthy moments of regret in situations where we could have responded better and perhaps, there is no definitive best response-just our best effort at trying. If we sat and watched ourselves beat up another emotionally…what would we say to ourselves as an observer? Would you have still called that person the name you used, raised your fist, or spoke in that tone? Would your actions still have been justified? Would you have still been boasting with pride and reciting to another how you “told this person off?” or would you silently stare in bewilderment at yourself and wonder who were you looking at? Our thoughts control every part of who we decide to be. So who have you decided to be? Learning to actively pay attention to your thought patterns is the first step in becoming more mindful of who you actually are. So who are you? Are you the screamer? The aggressor? The peace-maker? How are you identifying yourself through communication? Are you aware of your thoughts?
“Seek the spirit of peace and thousands will be saved.” -St. Seraphim (I will never forget this warning).
We so easily become disillusioned with the idea that we have “it” or a person all figured out. The older I become the more I realize I have nothing figured out-except to just love people the best I can. I can only love them through their hurts, addictions, sorrows, happiness, experiences, their everythings; and I genuinely wish I had learned this ages ago. How much better of an improved version of myself could I have started working to become sooner? Yet, if I am faulted for my reaction, I make no claims in perfection-just humanism and growth. I have no choice, it is human nature to react; I do however, have a choice in my reaction. The caveat is this: learn to control your reaction-avoid the human tendency to impulsive knee jerk reactions. Not every debate warrants attention-address it abruptly, ignore it, or just move on. All any of us can ever do is work to improve our reactions to each other. Continuously working to improve on our reactions and communications is working to become more Christ-centered in our lives. This is how we collectively break through barriers-walls that surprisingly enough are built based on our own perception of the world around us.
When people lie, we can not change them or become hung up on their lie about us. Let them tell their untruths-it is their perception of their reality, they will eventually tell enough lies that will change their reality altogether. All of us have to deal with the perception of the reality we create around us-false perception creates enough harm without further contribution. Remember the ideology commonly referred to as the “golden rule” of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus was the master of understanding this rule and preached it tirelessly through collective actions and reactions. This is why he commanded people to stop in their sins-and had we listened, as an entire world we could have prevented His death. Give those thoughts some depth. The whole world could have prevented Jesus’ death if we did not love our hate and sins so much. What a sick world to live in. We do not even deserve him, or his brilliance, nor his grace.
I think at this particular period in time, all major religions claiming to be seeking to co-exist needs a little refreshing nudge of the golden rule. Even satanism. Let me restate that: EVEN SATAN knows the necessity of not doing stuff to people because it will be returned “eye for an eye” upon them, upon him. Regardless of whether you believe it is God, the Universe, or Karma dishing it out…all religions recognize the circle of this pattern. So if you are dishing out toxic words-get ready for them to come back to you. For those trying to avoid that toxicity, leaving without hesitation is the only viable resolution; it is not quitting when there is verbal abuse. Avoiding patterns of circular abusive behavior and conversations are integral to preventing and breaking these abuse cycles continuously occurring in society. If you are unsure if you are a part of this issue-the answer is yes. We all are the issue. Not one is good. Every single one of us is guilty of condemnation against another human. You will stand in judgment on that day in front of Christ and have to explain your hate to him, as will I. Do you think there is anything any of us can say that will excuse our behavior to a man that forgave everyone for everything? Not one of us has an excuse that trumps what happened on that cross. So we must choose our words because if they offer nothing by way of improving our world for the betterment and growth of humanity, I can not even fathom the disappointment on His face when He asks each of us to explain ourselves. In fact, we as humans do nothing but fuel power on the wrong side by giving over to hate and angry words, and as stated in Matthew above: leads to our own individual condemnation.
Lastly, understand people demonstrating mannerisms counter-productive to the “fruits of the spirit” are intentionally engaging Christians into debates solely to prove to Christ we are unworthy of a place in his kingdom. They argue using circular reasoning and every word/opinion you form they have already worked to find the juxtaposition to prove you wrong; and when they are unable to prove you wrong, they are going to lie, cheat, and steal from you-then project to Christ that you are the one committing these acts. I speak from a place of experience when I say I have been witness to, as well as, a victim of these methods. It is incredibly frustrating. We as Christians can only circumvent these behaviors by setting boundaries, choosing who we invite to commune with at our dinner table, and refusing to set a place for those who continuously seek to establish disharmony and divisiveness in our lives and our communities.