It’s all about love! When you communicate within the boundaries of love, your intentions are to unify and to allow progress to occur. When you communicate outside the boundaries of love, what are your intentions? One way to distinguish the two is within loving boundaries you rejoice truth. Without love, you delight in evil.
The image below has been developed in the posts starting with Post 120 focused on what it means to interact with-in loving boundaries and with-out loving boundaries.
I have been using the Bible to clarify interactions with-in love. 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 says..
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
This post is about loving interactions that do not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth. At first thought, evil may seem extreme, but consider other synonyms for this term: trouble, blame, guilt, distress, crookedness, and distorted. Evil communication is not necessarily inherently wicked. When our words and actions intend to blame others, when we want others to feel guilty, manipulate a point of view toward wrongdoings, or alter the truth, we are interacting in evil. The deceitful heart described in Post #129 tends to interact in evil. Gossip, shutting someone down with words and actions, or any communication intended to make another feel less than who they are is a form of evil.
We all have been on the receiving and giving end of evil interactions. I believe speaking evil, not truth, is another way many interact outside the boundaries of love.
Think about it. Haven’t there been times in your life when someone has hurt you, and you want nothing more than for them to know you survived their hurt? I know I have been guilty of this thought and desire. Wanting to respond with “I am doing great….” and continue with stories how life is so good, giving examples that are intended to let them know they were wrong and that I’m standing stronger than ever! Evil. My intentions are, “I’ll show you.”
What is the loving thing to do in these instances? Truth. Maybe it is true that we are stronger than ever, but the intention of our words and actions is to put them in their place. When you interact with these intentions, you are really saying, “I am putting you in your place and that is behind me.” Evil.
Haven’t we all experienced someone clearly intending to bring us down, wanting us to feel and be less – only for them to feel better? They think you deserve to be put down. How does this help anyone? These interactions clearly hurt relationships and do not make the situation better. These interactions result in uncertainty, instability, and distrust. They tear down, not build up individuals. They do not improve the situation.
Recognizing this intention as evil, unloving, and not a message that contributes to anyone’s well being opens the mind to consider how we might speak and think in truth.
Truth is synonymous with certainty, stability, rightness, and trustworthiness. Truth conveys a sense of dependability, firmness, and reliability. When you speak with truth in mind, you consider the veracity, reality, sincerity, accuracy, integrity, truthfulness, and dependability of your words and actions. When our mind goes to evil as described above, how might we shift to truth?
For the longest time, when I recognized thoughts as being evil in nature, I kept my mouth shut. I would rather say nothing than to speak evil. For example, I would listen to gossip and not say anything. However, then I questioned whether in many of these moments, wasn’t I still allowing evil? How might I tell a better story in these moments? It can be so complex!
True, there are times saying nothing is better than actually adding to a hurtful conversations; however, how might we speak and think truth? How might we speak within the boundaries of love? To cultivate and explore better words and actions? How might we think and speak so our words are sincere, real, dependable, and trustworthy – not only relative to the situation but also relative to human relationships? How might we interact in personal, honest, sincere, and humble ways toward better, not worse?
Speak truth. As noted in the keep no record of wrong post (Post #128), here I rephrase this in term of speaking truth, not evil.
To interact in loving boundaries means to speak the truth relative to the situation and human relationships, avoid speaking ideas that are evil for the situation and human relationships. Suspend your own interests long enough to understand other persons’ perceptions. Allow new, better, and truthful ideas to emerge. This embeds all the ideas we have discussed so far: patience, kindness, not being boastful, envious, or proud; not easily angered or self-seeking; not keeping records of wrong. Don’t focus on the evil. Focus on making the relationship and situation stronger and better, truth-full.
Does not mean everyone will end up agreeing with one another, and that has to be okay. That is not evil, that is respecting varying points of view. Allow each person to be exactly who they are in the moment. You avoid contributing to evil and instead focus on there being incomplete or inaccurate understanding, and you can have an opportunity to expand your understanding of the situation. Keep the interaction truth-full. Then you do your part to keep the relationship in love.
When you think better, you know and live better.
To think better means you consider possibilities that allow the moment to be better. You don’t just react in the moment with the first thoughts that come to mind.
Consider this story about Jason, a teenager who had deceived his parents by lying to them about where he was spending the night. His parents found out he lied just before Jason arrived home. Naturally, they were upset because in their mind it was not like Jason to do something like this.
The father began thinking aloud, pacing, ranting, and raving, saying things such as “I can’t believe this; what are we going to do? Just wait ‘til he gets here.”
He walked a few more steps: “There has to be a consequence; we have to punish him; we can’t have him lying to us; I think we should ground him; how long do you think? What other punishments should we have? What about taking away his X-Box?”
The father went on and on pacing, throwing out angry thoughts about Jason and the consequences. Every thought in the father’s mind focused on Jason being guilty and how to punish Jason … understandably. Then, the mother turned to her husband and asked, “Why do you think Jason felt he needed to lie to us about where he was spending the night?”
This question changed the father’s whole mindset and instead he began to wonder along with his wife why Jason would do that. What caused Jason to lie to them in the first place? By the time Jason arrived home, the father was thinking differently about the situation and chose to talk calmly with his son. In particular, he wanted to talk with Jason about the choice to lie to them.
The father sat down next to his son, shared what he knew, and then asked Jason to explain why he decided to lie about spending the night at one friend’s house knowing he was going somewhere else. The father listened and asked questions because he wanted to understand why Jason felt he had to lie to them.
After hearing his son’s reasoning and apology, the father talked to his son about the consequences of lying. He pointed out how important it is for people to believe what you say when you tell them something. A lie breaks trust, respect, etc. In the end, Jason still had consequences for his actions, but the conversation turned into a redefining moment for the son and the father. Instead of giving Jason a piece of his mind, both of them left with peace of mind.
This story is an example of a T.E.L.L.ing interaction between a parent and child. The intent of the conversation was to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love so Jason may make a better choice in the future.
Now what if Jason would have walked in while the father was ranting and raving? What if Jason’s father was still feeling angry, and the conversation with Jason went more like this:
“Young man, you come here right now. Your mother and I know you lied to us about where you were last night. You said you were going to be one place and instead you went somewhere else.
“I am so disappointed with you right now. Did you not think you would get caught? This makes me wonder how many other times you may have lied to us.”
The father interrupts Jason: “You do understand there is a punishment for this. First off, you’re grounded from spending the night at anyone’s house for the next month. There may be additional punishments later. Now go to your room.”
“I don’t want to hear any excuses or stories, go. I really don’t care to talk to you right now. I am too frustrated and angry.”
OK, maybe some of the words written wouldn’t be the exact phrases you may use, but the point is how often do we just say our thoughts and feelings and never give the child a chance to share his thoughts?
What do these conversations mean to the child? There are numerous outcomes. First, Jason may accept that getting caught lying to his parents is a reason to be punished, and not think much more about it. He may just accept the consequences. Or, Jason may focus on how his parents found out, and try to figure out who could have been the tattletale. Another possibility is Jason may start thinking about how parents don’t understand because if he had told the truth, then his parents would not have let him go. Maybe Jason would have realized there are consequences for lying, and how important it is to tell the truth, especially to his parents.
Become curious … give children an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. When we have a T.E.L.L.ing conversation, we realize their thoughts and feelings are more important than ours.