Devotional | Shannon Miller.

You were minding your own business, driving to work, doing your job, checking social media, or talking with a friend–and out of nowhere came tough criticism, shaming, or an unwarranted accusation.  Maybe you jumped to “clap back,” maybe you went silent in shock, or maybe you instantly accepted and internalized the comment. How can you respond in a healthy way when you are feeling the sting of harsh words?

One thought that helps me in these moments is this statement from Ann Voskamp: “How you talk to others is how you talk to your own heart.” Oftentimes my sharp-tongued critic grew up in a household of shamers and blamers, and is just as hard on themselves as they are on me–if not worse.  I imagine the pain of a heart that is held rigidly to perfectionist standards, like mine once was, and I find compassion for the person who has hurt me.

As I process unkind words, I need to be merciful.  Does it seem fair to reflect my assailant’s bitter inner voice right back at them?  Sure. Does it also seem fair to beat myself up with the kernel of truth about me in their insults? Sure. But my King isn’t fair by human standards–nothing about the story of the cross is fair. He is merciful. And He has called me to live by this higher standard of mercy (Luke 6:36), both in the way I talk to others and in the way I talk to my own heart. I must go to Him in prayer, let Him weigh their thoughts and mine, and ask Him to lead me in the path of mercy.