My daughter hands in a comment about me. Ha. Ha. Soooo funny.
First up in my FAQ series was about How I Find Time to Read & How I Find Books to Read. You can read that post HERE.
My FAQ today is the issue of comments: How do you take a “comment” when it feels more like an insult??
I am an adult. I try (really really hard) not to take myself too seriously – and yet, I totally take myself too seriously. (I’m human. Plus I have a melancholy side. Taking ourselves seriously is like dessert for us – all yummy and self-indulgent and hard to give up.)
I have received “well-meaning comments” in all areas of my life: My parenting, my social media interactions, the family from which I’ve come (which was a pastor’s family and a grandparent pastor’s family – what stories I could tell about those “comments”), my marriage, my children, my current going to school situation, and my involvement in church ministry. Part of maturing is learning how to take a comment or insult or, let’s be honest, a perceived insult (most people don’t mean any harm) and learn how to process that without flipping out or teaching your kids new swears.
So here’s my general rules for How to Process a Rude Comment
-Consider the Source
(A little background – I play the keyboards at church sometimes, therefore, I am part of what is known as the “worship team.” Not the best term for it, but consider this as you keep reading). I just happened to be standing near a pastor as part of my job welcoming people to an event. A man walked in and the pastor asked him what he thought about that morning’s service. The man proceeded to critique the music and talked about how he felt the worship team thought it was all a performance and basically he moved into not really even commenting on the music, but rather commenting on our spiritual state. Like, I can’t even. How dare he!!
When the man walked away, I made some comment about wow, that was harsh. How can you take that? The More Mature Person Than I Responded Simply: I know that guy.
Later that week, I happened to be hosting a book table at a national conference, that same man came up and began completely tearing apart a beautiful, really great speech the speaker had just given. It was such a blessing (in a weird way) because it showed me, oh, this is just this man. It’s his thing. Being better than the rest of us. Got it.
When you hear a comment, consider the source. Many people comment out of not knowing the entire situation or not thinking through what they’re saying (or they could just be very angry, frightened, defensive people). In which case, don’t let it bother you. Move on. It’s not you, it’s them.
Sidetrack: We had an older lady in our church when I was growing up who would comment on EVERYthing we kids did. I think one of my favorites was when I came home from college and she came up and stroked my hair and said, “Your hair looks so much better now that you’ve started combing it out.” She also used to pat me on the butt. Like, I still don’t know how to process that one. “You look so cute today”…*pat on the butt* Uh… thanks?
Also, Anonymous is not a name. Therefore they are not Real People. Ignore all comments from your most fake “friend” Anonymous.
Also, Also, consider being unoffendable. A friend of mine has a great way of approaching a situation where she always knows a comment or two will be made, she says she keeps repeating to herself: I am unoffendable. It works. I’ve done it. It takes the focus of your mind off the comment and removes you from being the direct object of every statement.
-Consider the Facts
I am currently in grad school. Someone asked me about paying for school and then said, wow, you guys must be way richer than we are.
1-this hit my guilt button. I totally struggle with guilt about going to school because I worry it’s self-indulgent. But I knew my reaction wasn’t coming from a “sane” place so why fight out of my guilt?? It wouldn’t get anywhere.
2-No, we actually are not rich. Here’s how I wanted to respond: We struggled to make sure we got my husband’s business of the ground. We are not in debt. We were in a good place financially before I even made the choice to do school. If we weren’t in a good place, I wouldn’t have even considered it. It has been a sacrifice on our part financially and time-wise. We haven’t vacationed in two years. Our couches and kitchen cabinets are falling apart… ad infinitum. I also am aware that my in-laws have been so gracious in helping a little on the side to help us pay for school. This tough work of paying for school has developed a good sense of priority for me and it has also allowed me to learn more about receiving graciously gifts people may give. (Donations always accepted!)
But internally, I know those things and I did not feel the need to defend because my husband and I know the facts. I even just edited the above paragraph, because I don’t want it to come across as whining. It’s just the facts! But the facts don’t have to be defended to anyone else except us within the context of our family, and ultimately within the context of my marriage (and ultimately ultimately, within the context of my relationship with the Lord). Husband and I have talked about the finances and he is in full support of me.
Guess what? That’s all that matters.
-Consider the Context
Well-meaning or otherwise, off-hand comments could consume so much of our time as we worry and practice our Defend Myself At All Costs Speeches whilst driving our minivans to Target (hypothetically speaking). What I’ve found to be best to do is to actually take the comment. Look at it. Turn it over. Consider it. In other words, don’t fly off the handle right away (if you need to be angry – remove yourself from people for twenty minutes, cry, rant, get it out, then calm yourself down).
Then consider the context:
Strangers don’t know me. Don’t worry about it.
Acquaintances know me a little, so I pay a little more attention to the comment. Think it through and consider if there’s any truth inside their comment. Is there anything in how I’m portraying myself that needs to be fixed?
Good Friends totally know me so I absolutely pay attention to their comment and I understand where they are coming from – not from a place of tearing me down, but actually from a place of love. Fight back (fight being a loose term for defend yourself.). Talk about it. Ask questions about why they feel that way. And a true best friend listens to you be upset about someone else’s comment, talks you off the ledge and ends up making you laugh so hard you forget why you were even upset in the first place. (A little secret: You’ll never have a close friend like this until you learn not to take every little comment so seriously.)
In closing, here’s my comment to you today – do what you will with it (but at least I signed my name to it):
Relax. Chill out. Get over yourself. You’re doing great and we’re all human. -Kelli
Anything you want to comment about? Let me know in the… comments!