I read a devotional recently that has been rambling through my brain. For me, those are the times that God is speaking to me, trying to work on something within me that needs refining. The heart of the devotional was about who we are as Christ-followers and how His Spirit speaks to us – through loving words and ways rather than in condemnation or shame. It touched on the essence of James 1:9 “..be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry,” in essence because in that slowness to respond, we allow His Spirit to respond through us rather than spewing forth the crushing blows we often let escape our lips as humans. Hasty responses take that opportunity away from Him and are a result of living life on our own and not with His Spirit.
I touched on this in chapter 4 of my book – how important the words of affirmation are to our children, words like “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” and “I’m sorry,” and how these words are really the essential glue in all healthy relationships.
However, it goes even far beyond that. Hasty words leave a permanent mark in the hearts and souls of the recipients. I have struggled with the aftermath of being the recipient of hasty words all of my life. I’ve come to realize that a lot of my struggle comes as a result of my artistic personality. Take my wife, for example; her personality is logic driven. She has dealt with the hurts in her life from the standpoint of logic – seeing why the offender acted as they did, fully comprehending who she is in Christ, knowing she is not as those hasty words and actions of others might imply. Because of this understanding, she has been able to move past those hurts into healing. For me, on the other hand, the struggle is deeper. Being an artist, my personality is driven by emotion. My creativity thrives on what I feel – it’s the place where all of my songs are born. It’s also the place where all of my hurts are lodged. I can’t reason my way to healing; I have to daily take those struggles to Christ and allow Him to speak truth to them until it sinks in deep enough to allow the sting of those hurts to diminish.
In my case, when I react hastily to situations, I tend to react from this place of hurt, allowing negativity to pass from me to the person I am in relationship with at that moment. This, in turn, opens the distinct possibility that they will respond to someone else with the same negativity they received from me, in essence passing that along. So rather than having been an opportunity for me to pass on the love and spirit of Christ in this endless ripple of my actions, I have passed on something destructive.
There is more at stake from the ripples we make than just simply passing through this life. We can be part of a miracle; the sharing of God’s light and love to all we encounter, whether those with whom we have a close relationship or those we meet casually along our journey. What will you choose today?
About the Author: John Tracy Wilson is the author of the book “Of Life, Love and Family”. You can find him on the web at www.johntracywilson.com