There are many ways in which we communicate with each other. In fact because of technological advances, we now spend more time conversing with one another via email and texting than letter writing, phone and face to face. When we use these modern devices to communicate, we often do it in short hand or text speak. As a relatively shy person, this at first seems great. It also seems great when you are a very busy person. You can always choose the time to respond to a text message or email that is more convenient to you such as when you are riding the bus or train. On the other hand, it can all get a bit out of control. For instance, my teenage daughter tells me that boys who are fearful of rejection will ask a girl out by sending a facebook message or texting. That same boy will also break up with the poor girl the same way. Texting gives power to people who wish to harm but are too cowardly to do it face to face. We often hear of stories where someone falls victim to the cruel actions of a malicious person when they receive a hurtful text or message. Of course, it isn’t the only way hurtful words are communicated. Some abusive people have no problem being verbally abusive in person or over the phone. Still others may not have meant to be abusive but allowed their anger to get the better of them.
James 3:9-12 says: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
If we are really wanting peace and harmony in the world; if we are truly wanting to grow spiritually, we really need to reign in our anger and take a hard look at how we communicate. How do we react when someone says something that touches a nerve within us? Do we retaliate by saying something which we know touches a nerve within them? Try taking a step back within yourself and release any negative emotions that come up.
Wayne Dyer said, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
The world is a reflection of ourselves. What we give out so we will attract back. If we want to attract harmonious relationships, we need to be harmonious ourselves. One of the first steps we need to all take is to begin practicing non-judgementalism. We need to stop criticizing all those who are or think differently to who we are and how we think. There are many cultures, traditions, orientations, religions and beliefs in this world. Many people consciously and unconsciously divide themselves from other people for millions of reasons. The first step we can take as an individual is to stop mentally dividing ourselves from others. Matthew 7:3 says “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Peacefulness exists when we stop judging others for the mistakes they make and that includes ourselves. If we make a mistake, then let’s recognize it, learn from it and rectify it if we can and then release it. When we do it, we are practicing non-judgmentalism towards ourselves which will then make it easier to practice it towards others. Wayne Dyer also said, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
Another way we hurt others is by slanderous remarks. I have known Christians to even give the reason that they are ‘…telling you so you can pray for them better.’ Maybe they have good intentions but most likely they just love to gossip and use prayer as an excuse to do so. They probably have convinced themselves that they mean well. Ephesians 4:29-32 says.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” If we can remember with gratitude how much God has forgiven us for and how unworthy we are then forgiving others should be easy. In fact, it is a gift of love and compassion which we should be giving freely.
I love Ephesians 4:2 which says: ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ So when someone slanders you—bear with them in love. When someone viciously attacks you verbally—bear with them in love. When someone misunderstands your motives—set them straight but bear with them in love. When your toddler or teenager throws a tantrum—bear with her in love. And when your mother in law looks you straight in the eye and says she rubs the statue’s belly to get a parking space—bear with her in love.
Last thing I want to say about communicating in peace is that sometimes what comes out of someone isn’t what is really being said. If they are being surly or malicious or slanderous, they are coming from a hurt place themselves—bear with them in love. Send them a prayer. Gift them with a kind word when the moment is right.