Sarcastic vs. Facetious

Ever been in this situation? You’re with a group of friends and someone says something “funny” directed at you, but instead of laughing, you feel a sting. Everyone else seems to think it’s funny, so you wonder if you’re just being a bad sport. But the truth is, you feel wounded.

If you’ve experienced something like this, chances are good you’ve been the victim of sarcasm. And as much as our society wants to dupe you into thinking it’s just another form of humor, it’s not. It’s mean spirited, and that’s why it stings when you’re on the receiving end of it.

Sarcastic by definition means “sharp or bitter; a sneering or cutting remark.”

It’s been said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. It’s intent is to get laughs at someone else’s expense. It targets the weak, the sensitive and the inarticulate. It may be funny to other people, but it’s not funny to the victim.

Sarcasm often feeds the ego of the one spewing it, but the truth is, it’s dishonoring. It pushes someone else down to build the other up. If a person can only be witty at someone else’s expense, it shows a lack of creativity and maturity .

Facetious, on the other hand, means “not meant to be taken seriously or literally (an element of humor).”

The English language is full of commonly confused words. We have a highly creative language with many different words to express one general idea. Finding the right one means understanding the subtle shadings of the different choices. Sarcastic and facetious may both have to do with humor, but they are not interchangeable. Sarcastic words sting, but facetious words are lighthearted.

I once heard it said that facetiousness is a joke with a wink, but sarcasm is a joke with a tongue sticking out.

When I was younger, I had the habit of sarcasm myself. I was a hurting girl not wanting anyone to focus on my shortcomings. It was much easier to direct the attention onto someone who was defenseless.

As an adult, I once gently confronted someone who was very sarcastic to me. The person turned to me and said, “You’re being sarcastic too.” It caused me to dig deep and search myself to see if I was still sarcastic. Nope. I realized that the person had a wrong definition and didn’t understand the heart with which they were trying to be funny.

So, the rule of thumb in the Hagaman and Stahlmann homes is this: if you are laughing at someone else’s expense, causing them any amount of pain, it’s sarcasm, and it’s not allowed.

On the flip side, we want to raise lighthearted kids who are not riddled with pride and don’t take themselves too seriously. So when someone’s pride is injured by a truly innocent attempt at fun, we remind the offended person that the joke was genuinely meant to be facetious and not sarcastic.

We recently had a situation that illustrates what I mean. One of our kids fell asleep on the couch at a family gathering and a bunch of people took pictures of her sleeping. At first, she was tempted to be offended, but as long as no one intended to use those pictures to hurt her (i.e. posting them online or making fun of her with them), there was no need to be angry. Her family was not trying to make her feel bad. For her to have been offended about it would have only fed pride and vanity. The truth was, they just thought she looked cute and wanted to capture the moment. At the end of the day, it’s all about motive.

Knowing the difference between facetiousness and sarcasm can spare hurt feelings, prevent fights and save relationships. Once again, we find great power in definitions!

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Are You Offended? Part 3: From Offense to Hatred — How to Stay Unoffended

Offense can easily turn into hatred, and hatred is murder’s twin. I’ll show you what I mean in a minute, but first, let’s look at a few things the Bible has to say about hatred. They’re pretty startling, and they give us good reason to be diligent about not letting our offense spiral out of control into hatred.

I John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Continuing to hate someone means you don’t love God, and it also could mean that your very salvation is in question. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9)

1 John 3:15 goes on to say, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

This is serious stuff, but remember, Satan was once described as the most subtle of all creatures. In Genesis 3:1 we read the account of Eve being tempted by the serpent (see Revelations 12:9, Revelation 20:2 for the connection between the serpent and Satan): “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the women, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

Satan is subtle, and he’s been around since people were created, observing them and tempting them. He understands people very well, and just as he tempted Eve through the power of suggestion, he injects thoughts into our minds to keep us offended and to lead us to hatred because he knows it’s an easy way to get us to offend God.

Stage 1 — Unforgiveness

This is the first stage in the downward spiral of offense. This stage is most clearly marked by keeping a record of wrongs. So, whenever you catch yourself rehearsing a conflict and feeling the anger and offense rising up, it’s a red flag.

Once you recognize the red flag, you have a choice:

  • You can admit that you’re being tempted to slip back into unforgiveness and then make the choice once again to walk through the process of forgiving someone that we outlined in yesterday’s post
  • Or you can give your thoughts over to the offense, rehearsing the situation in your mind over and over, thinking of what you could have and should have said and spiraling deeper and deeper into bitterness.

Stage 2 — Resentment

Resentment is the product of meditating on the offense, rolling it around in your mind and chewing on it until the offense takes a firm hold in your spirit.

Obviously, it’s harder to release it in this stage, but it’s not impossible. If you catch yourself here, just go back to forgiveness again.

Stage 3 — Revenge

If you stay in resentment long enough, eventually you will begin to want revenge. Sometimes it’s as basic as wanting to “put the person in their place,” but it can also be more elaborate. Regardless of what it looks like, Stage 3 of offense says, “you need to pay for what you did to me.”

Stage 4 — Hatred

You can be sure that you’re in full blown hatred mode when you can’t be in the same room with the person who offended you. When the very thought of the person repulses you, it’s hatred all right.

Stage 5 — Violence

Matthew 5:21, 22 says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”

The Greek word for “angry” in this verse means “enraged with”. It makes sense that being enraged with someone puts you in the same category as murderers because hatred leads to an elimination mindset.

Basically, it goes like this — the hatred takes over and declares, “You WILL feel my pain! You WILL hear my cry! And I WILL eliminate you!”

Stage 6 — Elimination

Elimination doesn’t have to be physical murder. Although in extreme cases, it can go there. But it can also look the kind of verbal abuse that’s aimed at silencing someone. It can be an assassination of a person’s character to other people. It can be an attempt at isolating them from people and things. Elimination can look like dehumanization, demoralization and estrangement.

This list of stages is a tool for discernment. Do a self-check and figure out where you are. Remember that God can work in all of it. So matter where you find yourself on the list, make the choice to go back to forgiveness, and ask God to come in and help.

Hatred might feel temporarily good to the flesh, but the consequences are not worth it.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Are You Offended? Part 2: How to Forgive Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

This whole series really started when we posted The 6 A’s Apology. After the follow up post on The 4 Promises of Forgiveness, someone posed a question on our Facebook page. She asked how you forgive someone who isn’t really sorry. It’s a great question, but it assumes that forgiveness is something that the other person somehow earns.

Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person. Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” That verse doesn’t say to forgive after the person offers a genuine apology. It says that if you want your prayers heard, you need to forgive anyone that you have anything against.

Matthew 6:14, 15 says that if you don’t, your Father won’t forgive you. That’s a pretty steep admonition right there.

But here’s how you can do it. First of all, recognize that the word forgive is a verb. It’s something you do, not necessary something you feel. It’s an act of will. You decide to forgive. You choose to forgive, regardless of what the other person says or does.

Forgiveness does NOT mean that what the other person did was okay. In fact, that’s why we tell parents not to let their kids say, “It’s okay” when someone apologizes to them. It’s not okay, and forgiving the person does mean the person was right.

Forgiveness means you are choosing to take the other person off your hook and put them on God’s hook. You’re saying that you are not going to seek revenge, you’re going to make them pay or show them how it feels. Instead, you are release the person into God’s hands and letting Him deal with the consequences.

Here’s how it looks. First, out loud, make the CHOICE to forgive the person. Say, “I choose to forgive _______ for _________. I am releasing __________ in Your hands, God, and asking that you handle this in the best way for both of us.”

Then ask God to give you His perspective on the situation and to see the person through His eyes.

Ask God to help you completely and totally forgive this person and to take away the feelings of anger and hurt.

Then speak a blessing over the person. “I bless ________ in the name of Jesus, and I ask God that you give her the desires of her heart, that you protect her and prosper her and her loved ones.”

That’s it. Then just wash, rinse and repeat every time you think of it. Take heart, it can take a long time and many rounds of intentionally releasing the person before you actually feel like forgiving them. But the very choice to do it will be blessed. God will honor your decision, and He will be faithful to give you peace as long as you continue to forgive.

We’ll talk more about that tomorrow and we’ll give you practical steps to staying unoffended, as we walk through the progression from offense to hatred.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Are You Offended? Part 1: Steps to a Healthy Conflict

So, we’re a little late with this post, but with good reason. Our kids got called to be extras on the set of Dolphin Tale 2! Sorry, we don’t have any pictures; cameras were strictly forbidden. It was a really cool experience for them, but a bit on the long and boring side for the parents (just keeping it real!).

So today, we want to talk about staying unoffended. Originally, we wanted to cover the steps of a healthy confrontation, along with how to forgive even when the person doesn’t “deserve” it and the progression from offense to hatred. But when we started fleshing it all out, it was clearly too much for one post. Come back tomorrow for a discussion on how to forgive, and then stop by on Tuesday for a post on the progression from offense to hatred. For today, we’re going to focus on the conflict part of being offended.

Here’s the thing… Offense is lethal. Being offended and staying offended is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It causes a root of bitterness to anchor itself into the offended person’s life, destroying their peace, their health and their relationships.

But the truth is, staying unoffended is no small feat. It takes enormous work. Recently, we were teaching this topic to a group of adults, and one man asked why he should bother going to the trouble of working through this stuff. “Just walk away,” he said. But that’s not the answer.

Relationships are worth caring for and preserving, even when that looks like very hard work. In fact, we could safely argue that they are THE single most important thing in life to care for and preserve.

But relationships always involve people, and people are always problematic because we’ve all got that pesky sin nature. Parents know this better than anyone. We don’t have to teach our kids how to misbehave, do we? Nope. That comes naturally. But we do have to work our butts off to teach them how to behave, and it’s stinkin’ hard work!

So that means that in any relationship, given enough time, conflict is inevitable when a sin nature meets another sin nature. Actually, avoiding it can have devastating consequences. So can mishandling it. The end result of the Bust Boosters is a visible firming and enhancing of the size which can also help with sagging by strengthening and lifting the tissues. But when conflict is done well, it has the potential to strengthen a relationship.

Steps to Healthy Conflict

The first step in a healthy conflict seems obvious, but I see people missing it almost everyday. Step 1 is to recognize and openly admit that you’re offended.

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I often hear people talking about something that happened, and it’s clear they’re offended. When I try to gently point it out, they say, “I’m not offended. I’m just really hurt. And who can blame me? What that person did to me was so wrong.”

Hurt is just another word for offended. In fact, one of the dictionary definitions for offend is “to hurt or cause pain.” So, why are people so uncomfortable with admitting that they’re offended? Maybe it’s because that would imply that they have a responsibility. But for some reason, when we’re in the midst of an offense, we think only the offender should have responsibility.

Matthew 18: 15-17 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

So, according to this plan, when someone sins against you (a.k.a when someone offends you), it’s YOUR responsibility to go to that person! When it comes to raising kids, it’s so important that we don’t just tell them these things but that we model them. Our kids need to see what it looks like to be offended and to confront the person in a biblically sound way.

Gently…

Now, we have to be careful here. Going to the person and telling him his fault does not mean flying off the handle and telling the person off. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his rage.”

Galatians 6:1 tell us, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” When we approach the person who offended us, we have to be gentle, or else we could be in danger of falling into sin.

Actually, I’ve found that it works best if you’ve already forgiven the person before you confront them. I know a lot of people will say, “How can I forgive someone who hasn’t even apologized?” Check back tomorrow. We’re going to do a post on how to forgive, but in the meantime, let’s just agree to go to the person gently.

Notice that that Matthew 18 tells us to go TO the person. If it’s possible, we need to confront the person face to face, but if that’s not possible, at least to do it voice to voice. Don’t email or text the person. Gentleness comes through tone and facial expressions and body language, none of which can be well conveyed in writing.

Counsel v. Gossip

Notice that in the Matthew 18 plan, you’re not talking to anyone else until after you’ve spoken directly to the person who offended you. Gossip can lead to bad habits and can cause other people to pick up offenses. Then, after you’ve already worked it out, the people you’ve told are still offended, and they don’t have the grace to carry the offense.

If you’ve gone to the person gently, following some version of the plan below, and there’s no resolution, then you need to seek wise counsel and gather two or three witnesses. Choose mature people who can be objective and will help you resolve the conflict, not escalate it.

The Goal — Restoration

The goal of conflict should always be complete restoration — restoration of the relationship and restoration of the individuals involved in the conflict. Placing blame or proving that you’re right and the other person is wrong is never the goal of conflict.

When conflict is stewarded well, the outcome should be peace, freedom and a greater intimacy between the people involved.

So when you approach the person, use “I” statements: “I felt hurt by what you said. I was frustrated.” Instead of, “You hurt my feelings. You frustrated me.”

Summary of the Confrontation

  1. Sit down face to face.

  2. Explain that you want to tell them what’s bothering you and that you’d like a chance to explain yourself without being interrupted. Assure them that they’ll have a turn to explain their side, and you will also listen without interrupting. You may even want to offer the other person a chance to go first if they seem eager to talk. You never know; they might already feel convicted and want to own up and apologize.

  3. When you’re talking, use “I” statements.

  4. When you’re done. Ask the person to repeat back what they heard you say. In a conflict, every person needs to feel understood. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, only that you need to try to fully understand what the person is saying.

  5. Continue speaking until you feel the listener has fully understood what you said.

  6. Once you know the other person has understood, switch roles — you listen without interrupting while the other person talks.

  7. When they’re done, repeat back what you heard them say. Like this: “So what I’m hearing you say is that you feel ____________.”

When It Doesn’t Work

If you’ve followed this outline, and there’s no resolution, get two or three witnesses. These people are mediators, not a posse to back you up. The goal is still restoration, not revenge.

If there’s still no resolution, take it to a leader or authority figure: your pastor, a manager if it’s a co-worker, etc. And if, after all of that, you still can’t resolve it, Matthew 18 gives you permission to walk away from the relationship. That doesn’t mean that you walk away angry or offended or full of hatred (we’re going to talk about how to stay unoffended in Tuesday’s post), but that you simply create healthy boundaries.

The Bible says to treat them as heathens or tax collectors. We’re supposed to love all people, but that doesn’t mean that we invite them into our daily lives. We have no problem creating boundaries for people whose morals don’t match ours (heathens and tax collectors). We can still pray for them and even be a blessing to them in their times of need, but we’re not going to the movies with them or inviting them to our kid’s birthday party. That’s how we need to handle the people after a failed Matthew 18 process.

Check back tomorrow. We’re going to share some practical steps to forgiving, regardless of how the other person behaves.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Unpacking Anger

Anger, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It can actually be a helpful tool. Anger can be red flag that lets you know there’s a problem you need to deal with.

The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

So it’s possible to be angry and not sin. But this verse also tells us that if it’s not handled properly, anger can give the devil a place in your life.

In the classes and workshops we teach, Jody and I often say that the prison system is full of people who couldn’t get control of their anger for just five more minutes. My mom has been a physician’s assistant in the New York Department of Corrections for more than 30 years, and Jody’s first career was as a corrections officer. Both of them agree that there are countless sad stories of men and women who live in constant regret because they didn’t know how to handle anger.

Anger can escalate when you don’t have a tool. If you find yourself feeling out of control in your anger, ask yourself what tool you are missing. One sign is that you find yourself wanting revenge! Imagine that your child came home from school and walked into the kitchen with his backpack on. As he’s talking, he swings around and knocks a dish from your new set off the counter. You watch the dish smash against the tile and scatter in thousands of tiny pieces. You’re so angry that you want to go into his room and break something of his so he’ll know how it feels. That’s revenge!

When we feel anger rise up, it can be helpful to stop for a moment, recognize it as a red flag and make a decision to not react. Then figure out what’s causing it.

In the case of the broken dish, you sense an injustice. Someone else’s carelessness caused you to lose something valuable. But once you know that this is what’s happening, you can figure out what tool you need to fix it. Your son needs to become more aware of his surroundings and more careful with his things and other people’s things. Your anger was a red flag letting you know that this is something you need to work on.

Five Causes of Anger

There are five basic causes of anger.

Anger Cause #1 — Sensory Issue (physical pain, hunger, dehydration, exhaustion, overstimulation, etc.)

This is a big one for a lot of people. I have one son who can become enraged when he gets hurt, and his initial reaction is to try to find someone to blame. This is the same kid who would come unglued as a toddler if we weren’t careful to keep him hydrated. Some people are extra sensitive to sensory issues. My oldest is autistic, and we was little, he could go into a fit of rage in an overstimulating environment. But even neuro-typical people can get angry if they’re hungry or tired or overstimulated.

Anger Cause #2 — Injustice

Some people are born with an extra measure of diplomacy, and when faced with an apparent injustice, they can stay calm and try to find a solution that benefits everyone. For the rest of us, the mere hint of injustice can send us flying off the handle in outrage and fury.

Anger Cause #3 — Interruption of Process

This one seems to be especially difficult for us multitasking moms. We’re trying to collect all the pieces, tidy up all the loose ends and get out the door on time, and in that very moment an argument breaks out that requires our attention. We’re not mad at the kids for having a problem; we’re enraged that it had to happen when we were clearly busy.

Anger Cause #4 — Unmet Expectations

Newlyweds seem especially prone to this one. They often come into the marriage with preconceived notions about how things should be and can become infuriated when those often unspoken expectations are not met. In most cases, the issue of unmet expectations can be overcome with better communication skills.

Anger Cause #5 — Fear

Ever faced the terrifying notion that your child is lost? I remember one summer day when my oldest was a just a little guy. We had a party in our back yard, and at one point I turned around and Griffyn was gone. We had heard an ice cream truck come down the block, so we thought maybe he slipped out of the yard when no one was looking to follow the truck’s music.

All of the adults scattered, running up and down the block calling his name, but he was nowhere to be found. My heart nearly pounded out of my chest as I ran from room to room and floor to floor in the house trying to find him.

What was about 15 minutes of searching felt like hours. We knocked on doors, looked in bushes, peeked under porches, but there was no sign of Griffyn anywhere. Of course, I’d been praying feverishly throughout our search, but at one point, I decided to just stop, close my eyes and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

The cars! No one had checked the parked cars. Sure enough, Griffyn was playing on the back seat floor of one of the cars in our driveway. Whew! To say I was relieved would be a gross understatement. I felt like I could breathe again. But after a few moments of hugging my baby and kissing him all over, feelings of relief were quickly replace by a rising anger. Once I knew he was alive and safe, I wanted to kill him!

That’s what fear can do. Once the fear is gone, rage takes its place.

Somehow, just knowing what’s causing our anger, just taking the time to recognize it and unpack it, helps us to use it for good instead of being used by it for bad. It’s something that we can model for our kids and something we can talk about when anger rises up in them.

Check back tomorrow. We’re going to talk about how to stay unoffended.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The 4 Promises of Forgiveness

On Saturday, we posted The 6 A’s of Apology, which can really do wonders for conflict resolution. Today, we want to cap it off with the responsibility of the one receiving the apology — the responsibility of forgiveness.

After the last post, someone commented on Facebook and asked if we were going to talk about how to forgive a person when they’re not truly sorry. That got us thinking, and we’ve decided to do two follow up posts. Tomorrow, we’ll post a short blog on the causes of anger, and then on Wednesday, we’ll talk about staying unoffended, which will include some thoughts on forgiving someone even when they’re not so apologetic.

Have you ever screwed up and needed someone’s forgiveness? Can you remember what it felt like to have to face that person after you’d already apologized? As you approached that person, you were probably searching their face, looking for signs of genuine forgiveness. In those situations, we all really just want to be genuinely and totally let off the hook, right?

That’s what forgiveness really is. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did was okay. That’s why in our last post we urged you to not let a kid say, “It’s okay” after someone apologizes to them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurtful behavior or words are no longer wrong; it just means we are letting the person off the hook and moving on from it.

Forgiveness makes four basic promises, but before we get into those, we need to say this (and we’ll talk more about it in Wednesday’s post on staying unoffended): forgiving someone is often a process; it takes work.

Often, when we forgive someone, we’re not totally “over it”. In fact, just thinking about it can bring up some pretty yucky emotions, but check back with us on Wednesday because we’re going to give you some mental self-defense tips for when your mind gets mugged and negative thoughts keep firing.

There is a responsibility in forgiveness. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. When we have hurt someone, we want a genuine assurance that we have been released from the debt, and we are required to do the same for those who have sinned against us. When we say the words, “I forgive you,” we are making four promises.

The 4 Promises of Forgiveness

Promise #1 — “I promise I will not think bad things about you.”

Ever catch yourself rehearsing a situation in your mind and getting mad all over again, even after you’ve already forgiven the person? For some weird reason, that seems to happen to me either in the shower or when I’m cleaning. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just when my mind is most vulnerable to opening wounds and revisiting offensive situations.

When that happens, its a red flag that you haven’t fully forgiven the person. Instead of fully diving into the situation and letting your anger and hurt take over, instead of thinking about what you would have and should have said and getting fired up all over again, recognize the red flag, and say out loud, “I choose to forgive So-And-So for doing Such-And-Such, and I release her completely from it.”

Then pray, and ask God to give you His eyes to see her the way He sees her. Ask Him to give you a genuine love for the person, and then speak blessing over her. “Bless So-And-So abundantly, God. Give her the desires of her heart, and cause her to prosper in everything her hand touches.”

We need to talk to our kids often about this and take their temperature after they’ve forgiven someone. If we sense that they are still offended, we have to remind them that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated. Have them think of a time when they did something wrong and ask them how they wanted to be treated. Chances are they wanted to be completely forgiven, and they have to do the same.

Promise #2 — “I promise I will not say bad things about you to other people.”

This can be tough. Often when someone hurts us, we desperately want to talk about it, and usually, we want to get other people on our side. We want to be validated, and it seems to be the most satisfying when we talk about it to someone who knows the other person. But really, what we’re doing is assassinating the other person’s character. On Wednesday, we’re going to talk more about how unforgiveness can progress to hatred (character assassination is one of the steps along the way). But for now, just know that when we forgive someone, we’ve promised not to say bad things about that person to other people.

If you need wise counsel, talk to your mom or your pastor or someone who can give you sound, objective advice, preferably someone who doesn’t know the other person.

Do not allow your kids to discuss a conflict again once it has been resolved. For example, once they’ve worked out a conflict during the day, they shouldn’t relate all the gory details to dad at the dinner table.

Promise #3 — “I promise I won’t bring it up again.”

Once we’ve forgiven someone, we can’t bring it up again in a future argument, like this: “You always do this! The last time we went through this, you did the exact same thing.”

In fact, the words “always” and “never” shouldn’t be allowed during a conflict. You have to deal with one situation at at time, and when you forgive someone, you’re promising that you’re not storing up their mistake in your conflict arsenal.

While we’re on this subject, we also need to teach our kids to be careful not to become abusers of information. When a conflict is resolved but later a new conflict arises, a child shouldn’t say, “Remember that time you broke my toy. You’ve been know to be careless with things, so you must be the one who broke this thing too.” That’s an abuse of information.

Promise #4 — I promise I will take action to demonstrate forgiveness.

This is similar to the action step in the 6 A’s of Apology, but the goal is different. In an apology, the action step communicates that in spite of having hurt or upset the other person, you really do value them. When it comes to forgiveness, the action step says that the debt is totally wiped out, and the person is freed from any condemnation.

It could be a hug, a smile, an invitation to get together again soon — whatever it is, the action step demonstrates your promise that the person is truly and totally forgiven.

Stop in tomorrow. We’re going to talk about the root causes of anger, how anger can help identify problems and how knowing the causes of anger can help you get control of it before it takes over and leaves you having to be the one to apologize.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Do You Know the 6 A’s of Apology?

Have you ever had someone say they’re sorry but it left you feeling frustrated and unvalidated? Or how about the apology that subtly blames YOU? It usually goes something like this, “Well…I’m sorry that YOU got your feelings hurt.”

When our kids give us a lame apology, it can make us especially angry because on some level we feel like we’ve failed at making them understand their wrong and take ownership of it.

The 6 A’s of Apology can fix it! Print these out, sit everyone down, go over them, and then post them somewhere central so they’re handy when someone needs to apologize.

The 6 A’s of Apology

A true apology is an expression of a person’s regret or remorse or sorrow for having wronged another. And the apology is a critical part of genuine conflict resolution and restoration.

We have a real life scenario that we’re going to use to give you an example of words to go with each of the A’s.

A while back, my son Seth was playing with Jody’s nephew in Jody’s daughter Sydney’s room. The boys were being wild and knocked some of Sydney’s stuffed animals off her bed and then stepped on them as they continued their rough play. Sydney’s things are very special to her, and this made her feel like they didn’t care about her.

To add insult to injury, Seth also opened her jewelry box and began riffling through it, which made Sydney feel really violated.

When I told Seth how all of this made her feel, he was shocked. He doesn’t think twice about throwing his stuffed animals around, especially in the midst of intense play, and he wouldn’t care if someone looked through the things on his dresser. So it never occurred to him that this might make someone else feel hurt.

Once he realized how Sydney felt, he was truly remorseful and wanted to fix it. He and I reviewed the 6 As of Apology, and we role played to help prepare him for their conversation.

#1 — Admit (Agree) You Were Wrong

The first step of a true apology is to verbally agree with the person (and God) that your actions were wrong and explain how they were wrong. Frankly, this is where most people blow it. The person on the receiving end of an apology NEEDS to know that the offender agrees with them about what went wrong.

“I touched your things without your permission and made a mess in your room, and it made you feel like I didn’t care about you. That was wrong.”

#2 — Apologize

The next step is a sincere statement of apology, which includes a complete statement of what the person is apologizing for.

“I am sorry that I disrespected your belongings and made you feel dishonored.”

#3 — Accept Responsibility

Often, an apology is weakened by a subtle shift of blame. Like this: “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t the only one doing it.” Excuses can also weaken the apology. “I know I shouldn’t have gone through your things, but I was looking for something.”

Sometimes a person will try to find something redeeming in their behavior in order to relieve some of the burden of responsibility. “I should not have been playing in your jewelry box, but I DID put everything back when I was done.”

As parents, we need to make sure we are not causing our children to stumble on this one. It’s tempting to think, “Well, it was wrong, but he’s boy, and boys will be boys. Besides, he was just following along with the other kids were doing.” Accepting full responsibility is a critical part of the apology, and it’s an important step in building restoration.

#4 — Ask For Forgiveness

It’s humbling to ask for forgiveness, but it’s an important part of the process, and it invites the other person into the conversation.

On a side note, we need to teach our kids how to respond to this. They should say, “I forgive you,” and NOT, “It’s okay,” because the truth is, it’s not okay. It’s not okay when a person is hurt or dishonored or disrespected.

“Will you please forgive me?”

#5 — Alter Your Behavior

An apology seems empty when the person makes the same mistake again and again. This is the repentance part of apology. Repentance means turning in the other direction. After a person apologizes, he should be thinking of steps to change his behavior in the future, and he should communicate those steps.

“Next time I’m playing rough, I’ll make sure we don’t go into your room. And I won’t touch any of your things without your permission.”

#6 — Action Step

Once an apology is done, we need to take an action step to demonstrate that we are genuine. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving the person a hug or smiling brightly. Other situations might require something more.

Sydney’s love languages are affection and gifts. After we role played his apology, he made her a card using her favorite color paper.  On our way to meet her, we stopped at a store and Seth picked out a small gift for her. While we were at the register, he saw a cute little thing and asked if he could get it to tape to the outside of the gift.

This small token of apology was not only a blessing to Sydney, but it empowered Seth and was healing for him too.

Now it’s important to note that before taking an action step, we thought about Sydney’s love language. Without that information, this could go wrong. A person whose love language is not gifts can receive it as a bribe. A person whose love language is not words of affirmation can receive a card with loving words as vain flattery, but for a person whose love language IS words of affirmation, a beautiful card that tells how important and valued the person is could make all the difference.

Come back on Monday. We’re going to go through the Four Promises of Forgiveness.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Smart People You Don’t Have To Tell

We’ve been doing doing a series called Grandma’s Old Adages, and I’ve been sharing some of the catchy little soundbites of wisdom from my Grandma Rita that have stuck with me from childhood.

But today’s was actually a Grandpa Bob axiom, and it was so sticky that I catch myself and most of our family saying it fairly often. It goes like this: “Smart people you don’t have to tell, and stupid people you don’t waste your breath on.”

Okay, so it doesn’t sound very kind or holy, but it’s actually quite Biblical. I know we like to talk about how loving and accepting Jesus was during His time on earth, and He was. He loved even the most unlovely — the hated tax collectors, the hideous lepers, the scorned prostitutes — he loved them all with a perfect love. In fact, He loved people so much, He was willing face to a horrendous and torturous death full of public humiliation to save their undeserving souls.

But even Jesus, who was the embodiment of love, recognized the futility of trying to reason with stupidity. He said it like this: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

Maybe a better word for “stupid people” is “fools.” If you ever want to do a worthy family Bible study, read one chapter a day in the book of Proverbs and pay close attention to the description of a fool. Compare it with the descriptions of a wise person.

Proverbs 26:4 says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Who is the fool? This is a great word study. Do a concordance search on the words “fool” and “foolish”, and find out how God defines them — you’ll find very robust descriptions. Here are just a few aspects of a fool.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” (Proverbs 18:6)

“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” (Proverbs 29:9)

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16)

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3)

I think this last verse is the heart of my grandfather’s saying. When you’re dealing with wise people, there’s no need to argue, but if you’re dealing with a fool, it’s senseless to even try to make your point. With fools there is no hope of genuine reconciliation or restoration because they are full of offense, conflict, strife and bitterness. What you resolve today, is likely to be unsettled tomorrow.

 

Today’s post is part of a series called Grandma’s Old Adages. You can read the rest of the series by clicking below.

Show Me Your Friends And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

50,000 Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

You Catch More Flies With Honey

Poop Or Get Off The Pot

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King

Rita

Grandma Rita

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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You Catch More Flies With Honey

“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” my Grandma Rita always said.

Today’s post is a continuation of the Grandma’s Old Adages series. If you missed the first two, scroll down to find links.

Jody and I are big fans of teaching our kids how to advocate for themselves. When someone mistreats them (even if it’s an adult), we want our kids to value themselves and their relationship with the other person enough to express their feelings. Plus, we know that being offended gives the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). In fact, offense is one of the primary ways the devil steals, kills and destroys a person’s testimony.

Our kids have to learn how to confront a person whenever they are offended and resolve the problem.

How many adults do you know who are emotionally constipated? They are so afraid of confrontation that they refuse to deal with their offense. Eventually avoidance becomes a habit, and they are paralyzed at the first hint of a negative emotion.

Tremendous freedom awaits those who are willing to confront their offenders. But…as Grandma Rita always said…you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The Bible says it like this: “A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

We have to teach our kids how to be assertive without being aggressive.

When they’re dealing with offense, we have our kids practice phrasing everything in “I” statements. To their teacher: “I felt scared when you raised your voice at me.” Instead of “you hurt my feelings.” To a sibling: “I was angry when you borrowed my shoes without asking and left them outside. It made me feel like you don’t value me enough to value my things.” Instead of “Who said you could borrow my shoes? And then you left them outside! Don’t touch my stuff.”

The car is a great place to roll play and have kids practice the art of gentle confrontation. With regular rehearsal, they’ll be ready when a real situation happens.

Before you head off to the rest of your day, check out the first two posts in the series:

Show Me Your Friends, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

50,000 Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

Rita

 

 

 

 

Grandma Rita

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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50 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

This is the second in the Grandma’s Old Adages series, and it’s kind of a strange one, but it has always stuck with me. In fact, just recently I found myself quoting it to my daughter.

Why Frenchmen? Why 50 million? I don’t know…maybe it’s the aliteration that makes it so sticky, but the wisdom behind this odd phrase is sound.

When there is a widespread consensus on an issue, take it seriously. It applies in a couple of ways. For one (and this is the one I recently shared with Skyler), if a person is having the same problem nearly every place she goes, chances are good SHE is the problem.

Jody and I often say that as parents, we need to realize that our children are NOT extensions of ourselves. They are their own people. When we recognize this, and we’re motivated by a deep love for them and a hope for their greater good, we can be objective about their behavior, and then (and only then) can we really help them.

So when our kid comes to us and says they’re having a problem in school and then later complains about a similar situation at church and then again about something happening in an extra curricular activity, followed by a similar issue with her circle of friends, we need to be brave parents and recognize that 50 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong! The problem is in our kid.

Gently, and with a heaping spoonful of deep love, we need to help our kids see when they are the problem and give them tools to fix it. That’s our job. If we constantly side with our kids and defend them and make excuses for them, we are doing them a terrible diservice. For one, we are sure to create emotionally constipated blame shifters, who don’t know how to self-evaluate, take responsibility, own up to their mistakes and correct their problems.

But when we come along side our kids and help them figure out why certain things keep happening and then help them take steps to fix the problems, we are giving them valuable life skills, and ultimately, we’re delivering healthier people into adulthood.

How many times have we heard parents say that no one likes their kid because everyone else is jealous? Jealousy is real, and occasionally  someone might reject a kid out of pure envy, but if a parent finds themselves making this excuse often, they need to face the real problem or else that kid will grow up socially disabled.

“50,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong” also works in the reverse. In addition to being a litmus test for a problem, it can be a precautionary tool. The Bible says it like this: “In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6)

Let’s teach our kids to seek wise counsel from a variety of good sources on a regular basis. If a kid wants a guitar for his birthday, teach him how to be a wise consumer and research it thoroughly to find the best deal in his price range. If a teen wants to go on a mission trip, have her talk to a number of different people who have been there and glean their wisdom.

The key to this one is WISE counsel, but there is good reason to seek wisdom from more than one source.

Grandma Rita
Grandma Rita

Thanks again, Grandma Rita! This is a good one.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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