Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)
Friend to Friend
When my children were young, I spoke words of life into their little beings. They cooed and I cooed back. I whispered blessings over them as they slept and told them “you are SO BIG” when they were so tiny. I had no intention of ever berating my babies. But before long, my toddler proved defiant, difficult, and demanding — and I found myself reacting in anger rather than responding in gentleness.
OK, maybe you’ve never lost your cool with your kids, but you struggle to hold your thoughts (and your tongue) captive with your spouse. Or maybe your biggest triggers don’t reside under your roof, but in the next cubicle at work. Only you know what your triggers are and who ends up on the receiving end of your explosive reactions. My guess is that you, like me, want that to change. You likely go to bed each night asking God for help. The trouble is, while we eagerly anticipate His “new mercies” waiting for us in the morning, we just keep waking up and doing the exact same things we did the day before.
That’s why I want to encourage each one of us to spend some time pinpointing our triggers today. Let’s get real with what really sets us off so that we can come up with a better plan before we’re triggered again. Most often, the things that set us off yesterday will be the same things that cause us to lose it today. So, let’s take a moment to figure out what it would look like (and sound like) to respond with gentleness rather than react in anger.
When others do wrong, we can still do right. Whether we’re triggered by our children, our spouse, a work colleague, or an in-law, with Christ’s help and some planning, we can react right even when they act wrong. And our right responses have more power to lead others to repentance than our angry words ever could.
God sets the best example of this Himself in Romans 2:4, “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” When we learn to parent like God parents us, out of a calm and stable sense of our own authority, our children have the holy opportunity to experience true repentance. Likewise, when we respond in kindness to other adults when they’ve been unkind toward us, there’s a chance that they’ll feel a healthy heartache over it and take ownership of their own sin in the quiet spaces that we don’t fill with our loud accusations. What a gift we give others when we stay in control of ourselves.
God reminds us in Proverbs 15:23 that “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” Yelling back when others yell is never the right thing at the right time. Rolling our eyes and blaming them because they rolled their eyes and accused us is never the right thing either. That’s why we are slowing down in the quiet space of this devotional to make a better plan — to figure out what we mean to say before we say something mean.
If you’re a triggered mom, craft a sentence or two that you want to say the next time they do that thing that always makes you angry. “Sorry honey, I’m not going to fight you over the dishes. You can either go to your room until you’re ready to help or you can do them now, but you are going to do them before you…”
If you are a triggered wife, prepare what you are going to say that is steady and respectful even if he’s been short-tempered and disrespectful. And if a specific co-worker or neighbor threatens to undo your kind countenance, run through those familiar scenarios and make a better plan so that you’re ready to let your light shine the next time they throw shade your way.
Let’s choose to see each triggered moment as an opportunity to respond right even when others do wrong — and may our kindness be the tool God uses to bring them to repentance!
“Dear Lord, slow me down. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, slow me down that I might consider my words carefully. Help me to be kind when others are unkind. I want to respond as You would respond, rather than react in my own flesh.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Now It’s Your Turn
What are your triggers and who are you typically angered by?
Do you struggle with losing it in your home, online, or on the road?
How might you respond right when others do wrong?
More from the Girlfriends
If you struggle to remain calm, kind, and Christlike with your kids or grandkids, consider ordering a copy of the book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses.
© 2021 by Wendy Speake. All rights reserved.