Several years ago, as we were enjoying dinner with friends, my nine year old daughter questioned me out of the blue. “Mummy, why do you always eat with your mouth open?” This was followed by an exaggerated impersonation of how I ate.
As you can imagine, I was horrified. “Abigail, don’t be rude! Of course I don’t eat with my mouth open… do I, daddy?” (Remember we had guests with us). I was shocked at my husband’s response. “I gave up trying to stop you eating with your mouth open about fifteen years ago!”
I was appalled. I started to think about all the people I had dined with: family, friends, pastors, colleagues – the list went on. For a while, I protested. However, in the end I had to concede and I decided to work on this ugly, lifelong habit.
It was excruciating to have something so embarrassing pointed out by a child in front of guests, but it was worth it. In two weeks, I cracked the problem. As a result of my daughter’s brutal honesty, I am now a more sociable eater!
Way to go
Proverbs 6:23 says: “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” In the Hebrew, ‘reproof’ means rebuke and ‘instruction’ really means correction. Believe it or not, the Bible is telling us that correction is the route to a great life. Rebukes help us understand our mistakes and change our behaviour so that we can become the people we need to be to fulfil our potential.
Most of us have experienced correction. Perhaps your spouse has pointed out your inadequacies or a friend has exposed your secret faults. Maybe a pastor has highlighted an area for growth or a relative has revealed your weaknesses. The truth is that not many of us like having our attitudes or behaviour challenged.
If it’s for my good, why am I so defensive?
When an army is under attack, it must defend itself. So why is it that many of us react as though we are under siege when friends, colleagues, bosses, leaders or spouses speak into our lives?
There is a common childhood saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I wish that were true. In reality, many people have suffered as a result of cutting words. For some, as you were growing up, parents, teachers or friends hurt you with their words. For others, you will have been wounded as an adult.
“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword.” Proverbs 12:18
Words can be like arrows. They can hurt our feelings, squash our dreams and even damage crush our confidence. If you’ve suffered verbal attacks in the past, when you hear words of correction, you may see a gun to your head. The Bible compares words with swords in the verse above, it also says they have the power to destroy:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
Perhaps you know all too well that words can hurt. So at the first sign of negativity, you resist. You protect yourself against attack. We can end up thinking any corrective word is a weapon for our destruction. We therefore learn to build walls and defence mechanisms to repel what we imagine are the attacks of others.
If you have been hurt by words, it will be really important to ask God to heal your heart. Come to the Lord in prayer and tell Him exactly what was said to you and how it made you feel. Pour out your heart to God and ask Him to heal you. He is the Master Restorer. As you release the pain, you will find relief.
If you recognise yourself in this blog, I encourage you to get hold of our books and come along to Healed for Life. It will take you on an incredible journey to security and peace. You will leave refreshed, restored and more ready than ever to fulfil your God-given destiny.