Growing up I often had a difficult time using what my mom refers to as your “nice voice.” Multiple times a week (or day) I would be asked if I would like to “say that again in your nice voice.” Of course I didn't want to say it in my nice voice. I told my mom in my twenties that every time she asked if I wanted to say it again in my nice voice I wanted to respond, “If I wanted to say it my nice voice, I would have used it the first time.” At the time I told her this, I was better about using my “nice voice” and we could laugh about it.
But isn't that the truth? Isn't it difficult to use your nice or kind voice when you are frustrated or down right mad?
I Corinthians 13 tell us that love is not only patient, but it is also KIND!
Can love really be kind, all of the time? What about when I'm frustrated? What about when I've been hurt? What about when I've been hurt so badly that I want the one who hurt me to hurt in return?
I don't know about you, but I have a hard time being kind when I have been hurt by someone I love. I find it difficult to use my nice voice and live out “love is patient” and “love is kind” when I feel slighted, used, taken advantage of, or just plain hurt.
What about you?
Whenever I wrestle through these types of conversations in my own heart, I think of times when I find it nearly impossible to live out God's commands. I think of times when being kind feels more like being a door mat. I justify being unkind by telling myself that it is my duty to explain to my offender why he/she should not behave or treat me the way they did. I often feel like I must use my not-so-nice voice to be “heard” and/or use words that cut to the core. I don't want to be kind when my heart has been broken. Instead, I want to hurt that person in return.
I'm sure you can relate. So how can we respond with kindness even when we are hurt, angry or frustrated?
First, you must recognize your emotion for what it is. Pretending that you don't hurt won't solve anything. Avoiding your emotion or stuffing it will only lead to a bigger, more dramatic scene in the future. So ask yourself: What emotion are you feeling? Anger, frustration, loneliness, disappointment, etc.
Secondly, ask yourself, why am I so upset about this? Why am I so frustrated? Getting to the root of your frustration will allow you to communicate your needs or desires more effectively. Maybe pulling out a journal or talking to yourself outloud or talking to a trusted friend will help you discover the root of your emotion.
Finally, submit to the Holy Spirit. If you have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and have given your life over to Him, then you have the Holy Spirit living in you. Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. So by submitting to the Holy Spirit, you can live out the fruit of the Spirit. You can be kind even when you are frustrated.
What does “submitting” to the Holy Spirit look like in real life? It is acknowledging that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” It is recognizing that you do have a choice. You can choose restraint (self-control) and kindness rather than reacting on emotion. Submitting to the Holy Spirit can look like a prayer in which you pray the Jesus will give you the strength to be kind even when you don't want to be. For me, it means repeating to myself, “Love is kind, love is kind, love is kind.” As I pray for Christ's strength to resist the temptation to be unkind.
Can you be kind and still voice your frustration? ABSOLUTELY!
Being kind does not mean you are a door mat. It just means that you communicate your frustration without yelling or degrading the other person. It means that you wait until the moment (and emotion) passes and then you address the issue when you are not so fired up.
Being kind and living at peace with each other does not mean that you avoid conflict. It means you fight fair…in a way that honors God.