Recently Karen Ball wrote a superb blog about lies other people tell us and lies we tell ourselves as writers. I’d like to talk about lies people tell us.
Christians working through a legitimate disagreement is not the same as what Karen means. She is talking about being attacked, partly because of who you are. And who the attacker is.
I’m appalled by the things people say to each other when riled. A fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Unfortunately, no one always displays restraint. Our tongues reveal our hearts. Self-righteousness is an indulgence on full display when you give in to the urge to attack another person.
Here is how I would interpret the accusations Karen listed, with what I believe may be the accuser’s hidden feelings – feelings the accuser might not be aware of or acknowledge – italicized. Oh, and if you disagree with my interpretations, I promise not to attack you!
“Those books you write. Those novels. They’re lies!” (It may be helpful to remember that many people believe all writers are rich.)
I resent your success and am willing to accuse you being a liar to try to deflate you.
“Novels are lies!”
I resent the success of Christian fiction, and I don’t understand or want to understand it. Or perhaps I have been taught that fiction is evil. I am angry that another Christian is successful in writing it, and other Christians read it. I have decided both behaviors are sinful and I have appointed myself as the one to tell you that you are sinning.
“You’re stealing time from your family to write!”
I’d like more time to pursue my own interests but though I love my family, I resent not having that time. Now I’ll try to make you feel awful so I can feel better about myself and convince myself that my decision about how to spend my time is better than yours.
“What do you mean you can’t take on (fill in the volunteer opportunity)? It’s not like you have a real job.”
I’m not getting my way so I’m going to cut you down.
“Why would anyone buy a book you’ve written? You don’t have anything new to say?”
I don’t like or respect you.
I think the famous quote, “Hurt people hurt people,” applies here. Being accused by a hurting person evokes anger and hurt in yourself. And, since church leaders and those you consider friends are among the accusers, your heart throbs with pain.
When attacked, it’s hard not to respond in kind, but turning up the volume means everyone loses. Don’t say you agree with the accuser if you don’t. Instead, exit the situation as quickly as you can. One option may be to say that you will pray about what the speaker said and then change the topic or walk away.
Once you’re alone, keep your word and work through the hurt with Christ by your side. Do not relent (for example, start writing nonfiction or take on the committee chairmanship), unless you have a very clear leading from Him to change. Otherwise, stand firm and continue to be respectful to your accuser, if for no other reason, you may be offering a Christian witness to someone watching the situation, whether you know it or not.
Share a time when someone verbally attacked you and your response led to healing.
When was the last time you were tempted to attack someone? What did you do?