A Christian Science perspective: You don’t need to allow your responses to be ruled by the negative words or actions of someone else.
No matter how long we may have fought “fire with fire,” and no matter how self-satisfying such bouts may have felt, we can look back on them as waymarks to a more productive approach.
I’ve found that as I surrender willful, self-serving impulses, and silently commune with God, my responses conform with His will, which is always good and carries within it the promise of healing.
Willful behavior is counter to one’s true nature as created, defined, and maintained by God and is not impelled by Him. God’s all-inclusive Love, eliminating any opposing elements, points the way to find a solution through engaging with Him rather than entering the melee of the moment. Meekly surrendering our will to His frees us to express our true nature as He created us and to acknowledge and see that same true nature in those whose actions appear disturbing.
A family member and I were preparing to enjoy a picnic. Together we spread a cloth over a weathered outdoor table, and she helped me remove the food from the picnic basket. All was going well until she became aloof and then confrontational.
In the face of her outburst, I was able to speak with conviction. I told her that this moment was filled with God’s presence, His Allness, and that we were part of that Allness. Nothing could override God and His power right now, right here. God was in this moment with us.
I persisted in assuring her that she was His precious child, and He wouldn’t let her be anything else. Holding firmly to this acknowledgment, I refused to respond in kind, and this silent vow strengthened my trust that God’s will for each of us includes only good.
We can’t allow our responses to be governed by the negative words or actions of another. Instead of being drawn in, we can hold our ground, quietly knowing that nothing can override God and our ability to hear His healing message right when we need it. When situations threaten to elicit negative rejoinders, we can be alert to pause, and then respond in an appropriate, healing manner.
For some days prior to this incident, I had been trying to be more open to God’s direction in my life, approaching each task with an attitude expectant of good. My prayer for each day came from the Bible, Proverbs 21:23: “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” In the face of my relative’s outburst, instead of reacting, I kept “my mouth and tongue” from retorting in kind. In its place I was able to speak with the certainty that what I was saying came as the immediate answer to prayer – prayer inspired by God-impelled love for this dear one and the expectancy that normalcy would be restored.
As I recognize God’s ever-harmonious order, I find that my responses are propelled into conformity with that order, and the turbulence of disturbed thinking is stilled. Rather than tolerating a less than acceptable mode of behavior in anyone, we can quietly turn away from that behavior and prayerfully divest it of any supposed power by responding, verbally or silently, with words that comfort and heal, words that reflect our true nature and acknowledge theirs.
Gradually my family member’s expression softened, and with tears in her eyes, she slowly came to me from where she had been standing and wrapped me in a bear hug. The challenge had been met with a God-based approach.