I speak from experience with this post–but not so much from good, godly experience. I have far too many stories of when I wanted to say something to someone who angered or frustrated me, and I went ahead and said it—to my later regret. Over the years, though, I’ve learned to do some other things that have proven more God-honoring and helpful:
- Remember my tendency to say things I regret. When my history includes such times, I need to remember those times, see those wounded eyes, and feel my regret again. Out of fear that I’ll repeat that history in the heat of the moment, I need to do something else.
- Take a breath. Literally. I know that sounds silly, but it works for me. Just stepping away, taking a few breaths, and pausing my heart can make a big difference. Sometimes those few breaths take me in the right direction—away from the person before I say something wrong. It also prepares me to pray right away.
- Whisper a prayer for wisdom and quiet. If I really need to say something, I want to direct it first to God. I need the wisdom He told us to ask for (James 1:5), and I need Him to put a lock on my mouth until I have that wisdom.
- Quickly confess to God my frustration and anger. My response might even be righteously justified, but I still need to admit it to God . . . just in case it’s not. I’ve found that confessing it to God first often reduces its sting either way.
- Remember a Scripture verse memorized. Some of those include:
- “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36).
- “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psa 19:14).
- Righteously walk away. Here’s what I mean by that: Humbly say something like, “That’s really hurtful, but I need to check my heart before I respond. Let me get back to you.” The delay need not be long, but it may make a big difference in your response.
- Have the necessary conversation at the right time. You’ll still likely need to have a follow-up conversation—but your immediate, on-the-spot healthy response will give you more credibility when you do talk.
What have you learned? What steps do you take in situations like these?