I came across a handout from Roberts University entitled, “Behind the Strengths Are Potential Weaknesses.”
Each strength had a “potential weakness;” for instance, the strength, “Trusting,” had “Gullible” as the potential weakness. For “Persevering,” the weakness was “Stubborn.” “Smothering” was the potential weakness for “Caring.” The list had numerous words and pairings.
The list made me think about how some people can take our well-meaning words and turn them into something terrible. This happened to me a couple of years ago. Someone had taken my email out of context and accused me of demeaning her.
The incident made me realize that I had to read my words from the receiver’s perspective, but I also had to not take things out of context when I see people’s email or hear things that they might have said about me. I have to trust that what was written or said was not done out of spite.
This is how arguments are started—one person thinks the other said something hurtful, but instead of getting clarification, the person retaliates.
We are supposed to think of others as being “better than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3) so this means that we need to think the best about them—we can’t assume that they would intentionally hurt us, especially if they are a loved one or a close friend.
Before we started to communicate better, my husband and I would get in an argument because we took words and actions in the wrong way. For example, my husband would have a bad day and say something “snappy” and instead of me reacting in a positive way, I would snap back because I would take his words personally. This only escalated things.
Now when he has a bad day and says something “snappy,” I would ask him in a soft tone of voice, “What’s wrong? Is everything ok?” The Amplified Bible explains it this way, “Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone” (Colossians 4:6).
The point is, we need to believe that our loved one is “for us” instead of “against us”—we need to think of our loved ones in a positive way instead of a negative way. We have to believe that even when they “snap” at us, that they are not intending to hurt us, but that they are saying these things because they are hurt.
Romans 12:10, 17-18 says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other… Never pay back evil with more evil… Do all that you can to live in peace” (NLT).
Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti