Lies and More Lies

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.

 

Your turn:

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?

 

43 Responses to Lies and More Lies

  1. Avatar
    Brennan McPherson June 8, 2017 at 4:25 am #

    Proverbs 15:1 seems very appropriate: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Hard stuff. But it really works, and I’m always glad after I successfully exercise self-control and offer a soft answer, rather than a punch to the kidney.

  2. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson June 8, 2017 at 5:25 am #

    I agree with Brennan on utilizing self-control according to Proverbs 15:1. Though cutting, hurtful remarks from others sting deep, I’ve opted to never reciprocate their actions by throwing jabs back at them. My response is generally to walk away. However, if a verbal response is necessary I may merely comment “I’m sorry you feel that way,” “I love you,” “I’ll agree to disagree,” or “You have a right to your opinion.”

  3. Avatar
    Connie Stevens June 8, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    A few years ago, after hearing the “Novels are lies, and calling them Christian doesn’t make a lie right” comment, I finally started responding with, “Then what do you call those parables Jesus used to illustrate His points?”
    As far as the people who tell me I don’t have a real job and don’t understand why I can’t __________ (fill in the blank), I just smile and tell them, “I’m under contract to meet a deadline.” If they still don’t get it, I just walk away.

    • Avatar
      Damon J. Gray June 8, 2017 at 6:29 am #

      Connie, the contract/deadline response is quite good. I really like that.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:09 am #

      People who don’t understand a deadline don’t get the concept of the new gig economy, either, Connie!

  4. Avatar
    Cathy June 8, 2017 at 5:36 am #

    The comments, several of which you mentioned, came from someone I love. So, i cried. And prayed. Made sure I wasn’t stealing time from my family (I wasn’t), but kept writing. Writing is one of my talents. I shouldn’t waste the talents God gave me. It is also a tool to help manage my emotions.

    But… Mostly, I just cried and prayed.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:09 am #

      I’m so sorry, Cathy. I wish the Bible never promised life wouldn’t be painful. I am praying for you.

  5. Avatar
    Rebekah Dorris June 8, 2017 at 5:42 am #

    I’ve never been verbally attacked with these lies from another person, but I’ve heard them from myself as I’ve second guessed my call to write. I guess for me it helps to keep going to the One who’s called me and to my wise husband who encourages me to write. If not for them I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on ~ literally! 🙂

    • Avatar
      Amanda Wen June 8, 2017 at 6:15 am #

      Me too! No person has said these things to me, but the Enemy has whispered nearly all of them in my ear. I fight back by remembering that we serve a victorious King and the attacks come from one who is already defeated. Essentially he is, as Tamela said, one who isn’t getting his way, so he seeks to cut us down. I focus on what I know to be true and that helps defeat the lies. I’m not always successful, but I try!

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:11 am #

      I think questioning as part of self-reflection is a way to grow. I’m glad to learn that your ponderings helped you solidify your determination, Rebekah and Amanda.

      And my husband has always been a big part of my success, just as I support his career.

  6. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray June 8, 2017 at 6:26 am #

    Oh, Tamela, this is an easy question. I recall a time almost 20 years ago that I got blasted by someone in TEXAS, and I live in Washington State. This was a long-distance fry. They sliced and diced me as artfully and self-righteously as they could.

    Rather than unload my own venomous dump-truck of acid on them (which I really wanted to do), I responded with , “You know what? You could be right.”

    And I walked away…

  7. Avatar
    Nan Snipes June 8, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    Years ago, in high school, I wrote a paper that I was really proud of, only to be accused by my teacher, Mr. Cleary, saying that it wasn’t my work. Later that year, we had to write a fictional story. I put my best into it. It was done in class, and I had used some of my classmates as characters. The next week, he read two of the papers turned in–one of them was mine, and he praised it. While I never held his unkind words against him, he apologized. At the end of the year, he even wrote in my yearbook that he thought I would turn into a good writer. Sometimes, people just don’t know any better than to accuse others, and they do it without really thinking.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:13 am #

      Wow, that was harsh, Nan. So glad you could come to an understanding. But it’s never fun to be underestimated.

  8. Avatar
    Carol Ashby June 8, 2017 at 7:03 am #

    “Hurt people hurt people.” I love that quote because it is so true. That’s a great one to remember whenever someone attacks.

    I used to hear the “not a real business” comment, but getting a business license silenced the guys in my retired-scientist lunch group. The one who started a successful tech business even gave me tax advice when I told them I was going to file my taxes as a self-employed “author/publisher” rather than “retired.”

    Someone did ask if my husband resented me working all day on the novels and websites since I retired. I’m not sure how much was question and how much was insinuation that I was a bad wife. I treated it as all question with the answer that he was retired 5 years before me and works on his own projects all day. Not a problem at all that I’m still working.

    My advice is to treat accusatory questions as questions seeking information as much as you possibly can. A gentle answer can redirect hostility, just like Proverbs says, and people really are watching to see if following Jesus makes us respond to attacks in unusual ways.

  9. Avatar
    Jerusha Agen June 8, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    Such a great post, Tamela. What a wonderful response to an attack that would be–to say you’ll pray about it and then do so! I don’t know if I’d be gracious enough to do that, but in God’s power, I pray I would.

    The last time I was verbally attacked was in a Facebook message. I took a day to pray about my answer and then prayerfully, thoughtfully wrote out a careful response full of God-enabled compassion for my non-Christian friend-turned-attacker. Sadly, the person had already blocked any messages from me, so I couldn’t send the message. I still think I did the right thing, though, in waiting to respond so I wouldn’t replay in anger. It was apparently God’s will that the friend not receive my response. I’ve continued to pray for that person.

    Thanks for this reminder that hurting people are behind such insults and that we can show them mercy and compassion to them through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:17 am #

      I pity your attacker. Insulting and then immediately blocking seems cowardly to me. That person didn’t seek communication and understanding, but is one of the “hurt people” I mentioned, based on what you said here.

      I’m sure you benefited from going through the exercise of writing a response, however. To God be the glory.

  10. Avatar
    CJ Myerly June 8, 2017 at 7:15 am #

    It is so sad to me that people say such things, but I know that it is our sinful nature. For me, the worst verbal attacks I received were in college. At the time I didn’t react well. It was a very frustrating time in my life, but in it, I learned how to forgive and that was something I’d struggled with before.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 7:19 am #

      Upon leaving high school, I was convinced I would be going to college with sophisticated, mature people. Unfortunately, most of them were just like I was — just trying to be sophisticated and mature.

      I miss very little about being in my twenties.

  11. Avatar
    Mary Felkins June 8, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    I’ve been entangled in an angry “dance mom” drama for over a year now. Last January, the accuser made a point to state her anger regarding things I’d said a year prior that were hurtful. My intentions, my character and that of my daughter were attacked and misunderstood. Apologies were refused, judging them “insincere”. Yes, hurt people hurt people. Wounded people wound people. In this whole ordeal, the Lord revealed that she is not the enemy; the ENEMY is the enemy and I needed to remove myself from his playground. This revelation led to me writing a SHORT and sweet, hand-written note (significantly edited by my husband) which I prayed over before mailing. Since it is true that the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart, continuing conversation with an unyielded, wounded soul would only breed more conflict. I’ve left the results in God’s hands as I continue to ask Him to develop a Christ-centered attitude toward her. None of us really, truly knows what’s going on with others. We need to offer grace and forgiveness, as it has been lavished on us.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 9:38 am #

      Wonderful insights, Mary. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I have a couple of hard-hearted people I’m praying for. I’ve debated about telling them I’m praying for them without getting into specifics, but never feel led to take that much of a plunge. I think I’ll feel a very strong leading to talk to them when God wants me to, if ever.

      I’m glad you didn’t yank your daughter out of dance class because of the drama. I would have found that option tempting. Praying she is benefiting from and enjoying her time there.

  12. Avatar
    Renee McBride June 8, 2017 at 7:32 am #

    Your post opened my eyes to the motivation behind a person I worked for at a church who lashed out at me weekly for years. She was the Women’s Ministry leader and also the drama director, so I never understood how she justified her own art form while trashing mine. I was her secretary for years and quietly endured it. I never understood it until today, when you said, “hurt people, hurt people”. Now I feel peace about the situation. Thank you for helping me see it through the eyes of compassion.

    ~ Renee

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 9:39 am #

      Thank you for letting me know that God used me as a vessel for this message, Renee. That means so much.

  13. Avatar
    Joey Rudder June 8, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    Recently a woman verbally attacked me when she disagreed with a decision my husband and I made concerning our daughter. She was very angry, repeating what a mistake it was, huge, and then went on to say she would be praying for her and for me. I found no comfort in her words. Usually when someone says she will pray, there is love behind that statement. This was powered by anger. It was almost like she was trying to tell me what a horrible decision we were making BY telling us she would pray.

    I prayed before this happened, actually hugged her as God instructed me to do, and I can tell you God gave me peace and the words to say in the midst of the attack. I thanked her for praying, told her this decision did not come lightly, that my husband and I had been praying for years, and when it started to escalade, I walked away.

    I cried when I got to the car. It really hurt. I’m still waiting on the healing to come, but I believe the whole ordeal was actually a confirmation that my husband and I made the right decision for our daughter. And possibly it was something this woman needed too, although I may never know what. I keep taking it to God…He knows what to do with it.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      Joey, I think people like that feel they are “protecting” young ones when they lash out at parents. In reality, they are just making things worse. Clearly you were in a situation where the decision wasn’t easy or a solution was obvious. I wish your detractor could have seen your struggle instead of deciding she had been appointed to run your life. I am praying for God to place His healing hand on you until the wound exists no more.

      • Avatar
        Joey Rudder June 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

        Thank you so much for your prayers, Tamela. I sincerely appreciate them…and you.

        God bless you.

  14. Avatar
    Daniel J. Parker June 8, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    Thanks for the insights and good Word. Often the greatest “Idol” which we have is “self” and the protection and justification of self.

  15. Avatar
    Edward Lane June 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    I recently had an opposing attorney in court accuse my client of false things which I always take personally. I hope I responded in a restrained though appropriately strong way. It is sometimes difficult to keep a rein on one’s emotions in such volatile situations. I pray in those confrontations.

  16. Avatar
    Deanna Fugett June 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    I once asked someone, whom I considered a best friend, if they wanted to read my manuscript. They replied, “Well, I only read GOOD books.”
    Yeah, that one stung. But I took it as an opportunity to offer grace and work even harder on my book to make sure it became a darn good book, and to prove her thinking wrong.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 8, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

      That’s a great spirit to have, Deanna! I think there is a myth that if someone you don’t know writes something, it must be better than a book written by someone you do know. Maybe something to do with mystique, and the disbelief that you know an author with authority.

  17. Avatar
    Melissa Ferguson June 8, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

    With 16-week-old twins in the backseats, my husband and I traveled through the night for my very first writer’s conference. With twenty minutes of sleep under my belt but all the excitement in the world, I made it to the morning session only to listen as the teacher who’d reviewed my proposal for her class told me it was the “stuff we faculty get together and laugh about behind closed doors.” I replied that perhaps she was right and I was willing to take her suggestions. Thankfully my calmness somehow startled her into quick backtracking, an onslaught of compliments about my actual writing portion, and an extra touch of gentleness as she spent the next few days working with me to refine it. Some of her compliments are even the ones that press most deeply to my heart today.

  18. Avatar
    Peggy Booher June 8, 2017 at 7:32 pm #

    Tamela,
    Thanks for this post. I used to attend a very conservative church. The pastors frowned on members watching tv, because “television shows are fiction, and fiction is made up; it’s not truth.” I suppose that’s why some people say that “novels are lies”.

    I never heard that from anyone, but a couple years ago a magazine published a devotional I’d written. Because my extended family had experienced several losses, I wanted to do something positive. I bought extra copies of the magazine and sent them to my family, with a note giving the page # of the devotional. Later, I heard from a mutual acquaintance some members thought another person by my name wrote the devotional, not me. I was hurt. Finally I prayed about it. The Lord said, “You planted a seed. Some seeds take a long time to sprout, and some seeds don’t sprout until after an intense fire.” That episode was a lesson for me to quickly pray about something that hurts, and instead of looking to people for support, which might never come, I need to look to God for His support, which always comes.

    Thanks to the commenters who gave examples of grace and goodwill in answering harsh attacks. I need to keep those kinds of examples in mind.

  19. Avatar
    Glenda June 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    “Why don’t you get a real job?” A close family member recently said.

    “Writing is a real job,” I said.

    It stung and stings but the truth is…like any other calling “humility+obedience=success.”

    I’m writing for an audience of One (The Great I Am). What He Wishes is my command.

  20. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson June 11, 2017 at 9:51 am #

    Recently, a “friend” and I had a misunderstanding. I tried to apologize for the misunderstanding. Yet, the person has continued to send me “ugly” messages. She didn’t like that I was not going to participate in a group activity any more and she continues to send me hurtful messages. I have chosen not to respond to her any further as there is no reconciliation happening. I continue to pray for this person. Maybe one day we will be able to speak without any hurtful words.

  21. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray June 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    So sad that your “friend” has nothing better to do than be ugly to others. Praying.

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