Last week I read an article written by a fellow parenting blogger. Though her piece was well-written and full of nuggets of wisdom and things to ponder, her words left a bitter taste in my mouth. Instead of walking away from the article inspired and encouraged, I felt defensive and argumentative. Her article got me thinking – though not about her topic. Her words of condescension and righteous disdain got me thinking about grace.
When we walk through life with soap-box shoes, what we say fades into noise. People stop listening. It doesn’t matter how good your message is or how much someone needs to hear it. If you speak from a place of judgement, no one will hear you.
Every judgmental and self-righteous word you speak lays another brick between you and your audience. If you continue speaking without grace, the walls you build between yourself and others will soon become impenetrable and you will reach no one.
When our overall tone is one of judgement, people stop listening. It doesn’t matter if what we are saying is truth-filled if our tone is not grace-filled. Truth without grace will fall on deaf ears.
Over the next few days, situation after situation kept coming up where I recognized an immediate need for grace. Whether I am parenting a child in need of a behavior change, communicating information about my opinions on a “hot topic” like education or vaccination, discussing something with my spouse, or sharing a simple status update, if I want my audience to hear me, I MUST speak with grace.
Think about it. When I need to communicate with my child regarding a “course change” he/she needs to make, I am often met with anger and frustration when I approach the situation from the “This is what’s right and you will do it because I say so!” attitude. Do they need to change? Yes. Do they need to obey me as their mother? Yes. Is there a more effective way to communicate the changes in behavior that need to occur? You bet.
Consider your reaction when someone posts an opinion, meme, or article on social media. Are you more likely to consider, value, and/or respect their opinion or idea if they use condescension, ridicule, and/or attacks? Probably not. In reality, you’ll likely hit the “hide” or “I don’t want to see this” button and/or possibly unfriend the person. What is your gut reaction to the people carrying the “God hates your sin” signs? If you’re anything like me, you want to throw eggs at them. VERY few (if any) people will ever adopt your faith by means of an attack on their lifestyle. How we communicate our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs matters. It doesn’t matter how passionately you feel, how educated or informed you are, or how correct your statements are. If something is shared without grace, it will not be heard.
Are you walking through life wearing soap-box shoes? Do you find yourself sharing things with the intention of upsetting “the other side?” If you find yourself on a deliberate war-path, take a moment and consider your objective. If you are passionate about something and truly want others to know about your beliefs, thoughts, or ideas – evaluate HOW you are sharing and how effectively you are communicating. My guess is that if you are sharing with intent to criticize, judge, or demean – you’re not only missing an opportunity – you’re alienating yourself from anyone who disagrees with you.
If you want to build walls, create enemies, and forge special “club-houses” for just those people who think exactly like you, go ahead and wear the soap-box shoes. But if you are truly passionate about communicating your ideas, sharing your knowledge, and having a true dialogue or discussion about your opinions, you must learn to speak the language of grace. We will never change anyone’s mind through bullying and personal attacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about your faith, your thoughts on who the next president should be, or your feelings about cloth diapering; if you are communicating without grace, you will not be heard. Choose grace.