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5 Steps to Avoiding Regret in Your Relationships

posted 13 Feb 2014, 06:17 by Erin K Casey   [ updated 13 Feb 2014, 06:23 ]

It’s that awful feeling you get when hurtful words fly out of your mouth and hit their intended mark. Of course, if you'd thought about the words for even a few seconds before letting them loose, you may have stopped them. But you didn't stop them. And now they're out there—repeating themselves over and over in the heart and mind of your victim. 

The trouble is, the “victim” is likely someone you care deeply about. You never really wanted to hurt them. In fact, you probably love them. But in a moment of anger or irritation or frustration, you spoke harshly, perhaps unfairly, and immediately felt remorseful. 

We've all been there, done that, and wished we hadn't.
In Ephesians 4:29-5:1, the apostle Paul talks about the way we should speak to one another. And if we listen to his advice, perhaps we can avoid repeating the same hurtful mistake in our homes, with our friends and church family. 

1) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” Certainly, this is easier said than done. But the truth is, if you can manage to hold your tongue and stop the ugly, spiteful, angry, gossipy, and unholy words from leaving your mouth, you can avoid that feeling of regret. 

2) Say “…only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. While you’re holding your tongue, think of a few alternative words. Flip the situation around and consider the other person’s needs. Why are they acting in a way that frustrates or angers you? How could you encourage them? Instead of mouthing off, think of a way to share what you know about God’s love with them. Is it easy? No. But you will never regret those words. 

3) Start at the heart—YOUR heart: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice”. What lies behind the hurtful words we speak is the attitude of our hearts. Lashing out at another person speaks volumes about the condition of your heart. Are you looking for reasons to convict people for insulting you, stepping on your rights, or hurting your feelings? Or are you looking for opportunities to act with compassion, patience and forgiveness? 

4) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. Jesus lived on this earth and knew the frustration of being around people who didn't understand, respect, or even like Him. Yet in every situation, He spoke life-giving, healthy words that were in line with God’s Word. He always had an attitude of patience and of looking to forgive and so as we look to Jesus, we see what it is to live a life of love.

5) Remember: You aren't in the battle alone. We have two options in the way we treat others:  We can go through our days giving out grief to people left, right and center, and then suffer regret. Or, we can choose to give out grace to the people around us in our words and our attitudes. 

The second option requires that we put God first and share the grace that only He can give; grace isn't something we can manufacture ourselves. We receive grace from God so that we can share it with other people, so we can share love with other people around us.

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