Exodus 4:15-16 - You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.
Getting along with other people depends on our ability to communicate well. Our words, which we had good intentions on saying, sometimes turn upside down and cause strains in relationships. For example, it could be a friend let you down, or a co-worker was supposed to help you finish a project but didn’t. Each time that someone has let you down, you try to tell them that you’re not mad at them, you just want an explanation. Yet, they don’t receive it that way. They think they know what you’re thinking when they don’t. There must be a better way to communicate to others the right way and not in such a way as your words come out upside down. There’s someone who can help us with that. In the Bible, when Moses was told that God would be sending him to Pharaoh to tell him to let the Israelites go, Moses complained that his speech wasn’t eloquent. It made God angry because Moses didn’t trust God, but God still provided Moses’ brother, Aaron, to speak for him to the Israelites and Pharaoh. God will do the same for you. We just need to take a deep breath before speaking and ask God to help us use the right words when communicating. He might not send you someone to speak for you, but he can give you that quiet assurance that you aren’t alone, and he will help you communicate more effectively.
2 Corinthians 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
In the beginning there was a thought. It wasn’t much really. Just thinking about what someone said to you that you thought was hurtful. All day you tried to push that thought away, but it kept knocking at your door. Pretty soon a friend called and you told her about that thought. Then a few days passed and someone else said something to you that you thought was hurtful. This time you skipped past talking to a friend about it. You took that thought and tied it around your neck, as if it were a necklace, with the two hurtful thoughts hanging down the front. Pretty soon you had so many hurtful thoughts attached to the necklace around your neck that it stopped being a piece of jewelry and it became a chain pulling you down. Pick up the key of taking your thoughts captive to Christ. He will help you take down those hurtful thoughts and help you forgive those who hurt you. Then you’ll be able to lift up your head and be free from what used to burden you. But be careful. It’s easy to hang hurtful thoughts around your neck again.
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
To walk forward and live life to the fullest we need to cut down the weeds around our ankles. Someone criticized you and dandelions started popping up around you. Someone said bad things about you to one of your friends and thorny leaves begin to collect on your socks and pants. Then you said something that you didn’t mean to and hurt someone else, and you watched as weeds began to grow between their toes and ankles. You wish you hadn’t said what hurt your friend, and like the long arms of an octopus, you find yourself being pulled down beneath the sea. Did you know that the stress and regrets we hold inside today can prevent us from enjoying the future God has for us tomorrow? The moment weeds begin to take hold of your ankles, drop to your knees and ask God for his forgiveness and for help to free yourself from what trips you up. And my friend, he will do it.
Proverbs 18:24 - One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Friendship grows in a natural course. Recently you met someone and you wonder if they could be your new best friend. But, inevitably you disagree with your new friend about a subject. You brush it aside feeling that everyone has disagreements. But it doesn’t stop. You try to see both sides of the situation but no matter what you say; the relationship falls apart. It’s sad to lose someone who you thought you were getting close to. But each of us is capable of picking up an offense and running with it. So now what? Sometimes the “what” becomes standing aloof and keeping conversations short. Your heart is hurting, so you close the door for anyone to be close to you again. That’s not how life was meant to be lived. We are social people and naturally crave to be with others. But how do we move beyond lost friendships and open up our hearts again? Only in God’s strength and wisdom. He knows how long a friendship will last. Some are meant to last a lifetime, but some just don’t work out. Try not to dwell on that. Try to remember that even if you lose a friend, you still can pour your life into another’s and find that new best friend.
Deuteronomy 32:10 - In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
Do you know that we teach people how to treat us? They follow our lead in the way others see us. Are you happy with yourself, or do you only see yourself as the weaker person? Do you give yourself a break when you fail, or do you curse yourself under your breath? Do you think that you have very little to contribute to the world? Do you think you’re a waste of time to others? What we have to remember is that if we don’t respect ourselves how can we expect anyone else to? How would you like to be seen? Start there. Go gently. Don’t expect change overnight. Take one step and then the next. When you put your foot in the right direction day after day, you will eventually figure out, with God’s help, how he sees you and wants you to live.
Titus 2:3 - Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Have you recently had trouble with mice or rats in your cupboards? You go to the hardware store and buy a couple of traps. You place some cheese or peanut butter on the trap, set it and leave it under your cupboards waiting until the trap snaps and captures a mouse. Do you know that complaining can become a trap? We start out by placing something on the trap that’s made of gossip or envy. Then we put the trap out in front of us waiting for someone to take the bait and become trapped. It’s easy – all you have to do is complain a little. Put someone down. Stir up a little anger. That’s when the trap is sprung hurting those around us and trapping them. Let’s back up and not even set the trap up. Find ways to compliment those around you. Give them encouragement. Find something good to pass on instead of getting trapped in the vicious cycle of complaining. God wants each of us to think of others before ourselves. We weren’t meant to be complainers but to show the world the beauty of finding the good in others.
Proverbs 12:17 - A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.
Honesty is more than just being honest with others. It applies to us as well. It’s easy to skirt around the borders of honesty and tell small lies, or leave out parts of a story. But we’re the ones who know the truth and this can damage how we perceive ourselves, which can cause us to hate ourselves. We must stop the judgmental cycle and give ourselves the chance to at least strive towards facing a true life. If you do, it’s worth the risk. Others will then begin to see the true you; someone who no longer pretends to be something they’re not. God will honor our efforts and will help us grow through this process. It’s never easy, but coming up with lies to tell ourselves and others can be harder. Let God tell you who he thinks you are. Then, the next time your mind starts to cause your imagination to explode on you, stop the thought and take it captive. Ask yourself if what you’re thinking is who you want to be. Be honest, but also take action and believe the encouraging words God is speaking to you and let the lies fly away.
Psalm 66:18-19 - If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Do you have trouble getting your needs met? It may be that people push you aside because you’ve never expressed your wishes. Your family and friends may think that you’re fine with whatever everyone else wants. Maybe they do care, but they don’t know there’s a problem. We can improve on expressing our needs and wants to others while also being willing to listen to theirs. This will help us to keep our relationships growing and open instead of animosity taking over. You see, even though you think something isn’t bothering you, being ignored can cause animosity to take over your feelings, too. Communicating isn’t easy, but it can be harder if each party is hiding their true feelings. God understands our feelings and is ready to listen to us. He can also bring people to mind as we pray that we may not always listen to.
Matthew 10:30, 31 - And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone wants to feel that they matter. If you don’t have the courtesy to pay attention when having a conversation, you can cause someone to doubt their worth in your eyes and in their own. Another way of feeding the fire of low self-worth is to continually turn down invitations to do things with your friend. If you truly are not available tell them in a way that will still make them feel they’re important to you. Only talking about yourself in a conversation and not letting the other person have a chance to speak their views can also hurt them. Look directly at your friend when they are speaking. Make the time to get together with your friend. And, stop talking so much and interrupting them and allow them to express their opinion. You never know, what they say may help you solve a problem you’re going through and will cause your relationship to grow. Do you struggle with feeling you matter?
Proverbs 15:30 - A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
Do you tend to see only the bad around you? A ridiculous political scene, hurricanes, devastation of our hearts and homes, family stresses, or a health crisis hitting your loved one can pull you towards the bad? There is always bad out there. But there doesn’t have to be only bad or anxious thoughts. What’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy is out there. You just have to turn around 180 degrees, see that God has blessed you with much more than the bad, and bask in the light of his love. Do you struggle with only seeing the bad in life? Turn it over to God and he will send you peace.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.