Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 16. Insults

Proverbs 12:16
A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

If they ever make a blogger’s version of the Bible, this verse should be in there. This is the verse I constantly come back to when someone says something mean or hurtful or tries to make me look dumb on the blog. I want to respond. Right that second I want to fire off a comment or return their hate mail or use the site to launch a full on attack against that person. But that’s what a fool does. A fool responds at once. A fool gives someone that’s throwing a rock an even bigger platform by acknowledging the comment and getting into a conversation about it.

A prudent man, overlooks an insult. A prudent person realizes that an instant response to an insult is probably going to be emotion driven, if not flat out designed for revenge. Whether that’s on a blog or in a conversation with a coworker or at the dinner table with your husband.

I do respond sometimes to people that say hurtful things. Sometimes I’ve made a mistake and have said something that offended them. Sometimes I need to apologize. Sometimes they’re just hurting me because they’re running from their own hurt. Sometimes my wife needs to talk some sense in to me before I hit "send" on an email I'll regret. But above all, I’m learning to overlook an insult. It’s not easy, but I don’t like to be foolish.

How do you respond to insults?

20 comments:

Beautiful Intellectual said...

Its been a long lesson to learn, and probably 3 or 4 times out of 10, I still hit back, but Leo McGarry taught me one thing (ok, a lot of things) from The West Wing - not to accept the premise of the question, or in this case, the insult. If you don't accept the reason behind the insult, it can't touch you. That's the theory anyway. How well it works...that's probably a story for another day
x

jake - aka the comment novelist said...

Thank you.

heartafire said...

Great proverb---thanks for the enlightenment.

Asti Plear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm not funny, but I wish I was funny so that people would like me. It doesn't matter if I'm deep--only funny. You get so much more traffic on your SCL site than you do on here... and you probably wouldn't get hardly any on here if it weren't for that site. People love you when you're funny. Not so much if you're not funny. But if you try to be funny, and fail... well, that is the worst. Then they just think you're dumb and don't take anything you say for real.

Yes, I wish I was as funny as you, Jon. I wish I was. But I'm not.

I'm one of those guys who is running away from his hurt. I have tried to hurt people of whom I'm jealous--people who I see others really like when I think they should like me more. (Don't worry--I've never sent any hate mail to you.)

I wish people would admire and value me more.

I know I'm supposed to have enough in Jesus' acceptance of me. But after acknowleging this fact and agreeing with it... am I just supposed to act like I don't want people to value me because I know I'm not supposed to? Well, to be honest, I still do. Have ever since I was a very little boy.

Just a kid that's a little too chubby, a little too poor, a little too not-funny, a little too short, a little too non-athletic, a little too ugly, a little too unconfident to ever have anyone pay me much attention other than rolling their eyes when I speak and wishing I would go away or shut up.

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Kendra Golden said...

My pastor tells a story about a donkey that's trapped in a hole and the owner can't get it out. So, he decides to just bury the donkey and put it out of its misery. As each shovelful of dirt lands on the donkey's back, the donkey shakes it off. And as the dirt builds up on the bottom of the hole the donkey steps up. Obviously, the donkey eventually walks right out of the hole. So, that's what it try to do. Shake it off, and step up.

Alicia said...

Isn't it interesting when we find ourselves in a situation where we need to apologize to someone who insulted us in the first place?

When I'm insulted, usually I launch a mental attack against the person. I may say a snide remark or two if I'm feeling bold, but inside I stew, which only hurts me more, and really is no better than verbal attacks.

Daniel Montgomery said...

Man! You would have to do this one today.

imbrownie said...

I have a tendency to revert to passive-aggressiveness when someone insults me. As a worship leader at a large church, there is always 1 person who thought "it was too loud" or "can't we get rid of those drums" or "eliminate the denim on stage". No joke. Someone actually wrote that last line an email. My knee-jerk reaction is to make bumper stickers or buttons that say "eliminate the denim" with a denim background or something. Foolish.

Thanks for the reminder...

JennyM said...

You also have to accept that the person from whom the insult came is dealing with a less than stellar grip on his or her heart and tongue.
I knew a woman who just DUMPED heaps and heaps of scorn and vitriol on me and did it in public, accused me of being full of sin (aren't we all?) and therefore "must be full of all kinds of diseases". Why? Simply because I called on her to account for her words. I realized that I was given free will from God. And part of free will was choosing wisely to whom I would bare my heart. So, I asked her to never contact me again. Her reply, well let's just say she went down in a blaze of glory.
Never let someone have power over you if they are unBiblical, unChristlike and unkind. Let God work their issues out, and you should walk away.

Anonymous said...

One of my campers told me that I looked like Ugly Betty the first night of camp this past summer. She was an eighth grader - about 6 years too old for that to be cute. I sat there for a second and then started laughing, and she just stared at me. But it gave me time to cool off, since I couldn't exactly yell back. Also completely confuses the giver of the insult if they're standing there. :)

Lisa Joy said...

Unfortunately, I was guilty of being the fool in this respect just about 15 minutes ago. My toddler didn't like something I said, so he slapped me. On the face. Hard. Sinful nature at its best. While I, as a parent, am required to provide appropriate consequences for said action, I took it much too personally and not only showed my parental wrath, but also attempted to guilt-trip him into apologizing. (Yeah, that didn't work.) Looks like I'm the one who needs to apologize now...

sando said...

Thanks for this, Jon. Have been verbally attacked lately, it was pretty nasty, but I chose to not retaliate. This exp was very humbling, humiliating and painful. My heart was broken, but I remembered the Lord on the Cross, who did not say a WORD against his offenders while they were rejecting and crucifying him... he loved them -- his very own death was the expression of his love for them. I, honestly, could not think of anything else at that moment and it's what kept me from saying things I might have regretted later (turns out most of the time the person is not attacking you directly, but expressing anger that comes from past/present hurts that have nothing to do with you!). nyway, I don't always succeed in reacting with such attitude but praying that I do more often. God is good :)

Thrills of Zion said...

unfortunate sometimes i use scripture as a vessel for my comeback and this is so dishonoring to God, using his words in scorn, bit like a pharisee. feels like you being a bit righteous and you can sometimes use the 'Jesus in the temple' to justify your rebuttal, but you really have you analyze your heart.

heartafire said...

Anon at 7:11,

Thank you for sharing this. I know anyone who reads your post will be able to relate in some way.
How refreshing to hear someone just put it all out there; I am sorry for what you have suffered, and I am certain I am not the only person who has prayed for you today.

And I'll just say as far as "being funny:: I am a fairly funny person, and come from a family of extremely funny people. I have come to realize as I have aged, how much of a defense mechanism humor is---sometimes it's the only way I can tell the truth about things.

Though I can be pretty funny, I have always been drawn to people who are quieter, more serious, and definitely "deeper" than I am. I know how overrated "funny" is. [ In fact, someone once introduced my husband and me at a couples' retreat, by saying, "He's the smart one; she's the funny one."
Ha. and. Ha.] "Funny" definitely attracts people to you...peopple love to be entertained. But deep down, funny people know that that is why people like them. How much richer it would be to be known for my deep thoughts, good listening skills, and intercessory prayer.

To answer your question (if you were being serious and not rhetorical about it)... I think "Yes, we are not supposed to think about our value in human terms. I think we are supposed to know that his grace is sufficient. And also, that "we must decrease [stop considering our worth, our self-esteem, etc.] that He might increase."

I always feel that humility is really the sign of a deep Chrsitian. I lack this, and pray for more humility every day [though I always add a caveat about hoping it won't involve too much suffering!].
I find your humility very moving.

Huggies said...

I'm a big culprit of using emails, blogs and websites to fire back insults. It's so easy to get the wrong idea about what people say over the internet too.

A friend gave me some good advice the other day about responding to insulting emails.

She said, "I write the reply I WANT to send, press Save, and sleep on it."

That at least gives you space to think about the effect of your words. Usually the message you end up sending is radically different from the one you originally wrote.

It does mean you need to be careful about taking out the sender's address from the To: box though, just in case you accidentally press Send...arrgh!

Anonymous said...

Thank you heartafire.

Anonymous said...

LOVE THIS!!!

mollie said...

This was such good thing to read. I just read this today, but yesterday I was thinking about how I need to respond to things with an attitude of love.

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