This series has been quite soul-baring for me. Here we go again. I’m ashamed to say I really struggle with feeling the need to defend myself to others. Why is that?
Believe me, I’ve analyzed this one until I’m blue in the face! I want to get to the root of getting defensive. It’s just not an attractive quality, have you noticed?
I find that I get defensive when I:
- feel misunderstood
- feel misjudged
- feel like the other person hasn’t heard me correctly
- feel ganged up on
- feel misrepresented
- feel like I’ve lost something
- Ask honest questions instead of building your defense. Sometimes we grow defensive simply because we have misunderstood the other person’s words, motives, or actions. Ask for and seek clarity. In doing so, you’ll create an atmosphere for honest, peaceful exchange of ideas rather than a battlefield. (Oh my! I need this!) (Proverbs 20:5)
- Entrust yourself to God. You can be assured that He sees what is going on and assesses it correctly. Trust Him and not yourself. (Genesis 16:13 & Proverbs 3:5)
- Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I know. That’s a Bible verse (James 1:19 to be exact) and that makes it a hard thing to do. But we can practice those three disciplines to make them work for us! Concentrate on listening to the other person. Make it your job to gather information! Try to hold off on speaking as long as you possibly can, giving yourself an opportunity to speak more wisely and lovingly. Finally, keep those weapons on the ground. Refuse to pick them up!
- Consider the other person. My husband has wisely reminded me again and again, “Hurting people hurt people.” Could the person who is seemingly hurting you be hurting themselves? You’re less likely to fire back at a wounded person, wouldn’t you say? (Philippians 2:3)
- Speak truth to yourself. If the other person has hurt your feelings with destructive words, instead of firing back, retreat to a quiet place where you can heal your wounds with the soothing ointment of biblical truth. (Psalm 42:5)
- Put the weapons down. Remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil one who seeks to destroy every good thing God has created, including your testimony, your relationships, and your calling. The armor with which we fight him is all spiritual armor. But when you put on carnal battle array, such as hammering sarcasm, harsh accusations, or stinging words, and defend yourself to another person, you will destroy the good with the bad. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Keep a sense of humor. This isn’t always easy, but I find it helps if I don’t take myself or the moment so seriously.
I don’t want to be a defensive person, someone with whom people feel they must walk on eggshells. Know what I mean? I want to be gracious and easy-to-be-with. I want to be the kind of person who creates an atmosphere for easy exchange of ideas, not a battlefield. Sometimes the other person creates that kind of situation, but I can still refuse to pick up the weapons of battle. Instead I can diffuse the tension with a sense of humor, a little grace, and trust in my God.