The next time someone is wrong on the internet, let’s try to remember that correction requires a loving relationship, or it won’t be received well. Usually, it is best to just stop and pray. If God does ever ask us to correct his children for him, it is wise to first connect with God’s children and positively and nurture them, meeting their needs in a loving manner. If we take time to do that, we will be much better received. In this context, correction is a positive affirmation of relationship instead of the negative rejection it is when it is disconnected from a warm, nurturing relationship.
Let’s also remember we need loving correction ourselves and seek nurturing relationships where we will get nudged into the right direction safely. We can get through bad days by relying on a nurturing relationship with someone we can trust to lovingly, gently correct us while praising what we get right more frequently and patiently listening even if we don’t say everything as respectfully as we should. I strongly recommend we all have that relationship with Father God and Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you happen to have a good parent or spouse who qualifies, too, great. However, we need to keep the Lord as our first go-to person or our loved one will become an idol. Three reasons to avoid that. One, idolatry hurts God like our spouses committing adultery would hurt us. Two, even the best people won’t always be there for us, but God is always with his people. Three, idols often will fall off of their pedestals, but God will never fail you. So spare God and yourself a lot of pain and keep God first.
Now, some of us have conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder which cause rejection sensitivity. When triggered, it produces a physical anxiety that some would call “negative energy.” Whatever we call it, we are often tempted to think this comes from the person triggering us, blaming them. In reality, it comes from our own flesh’s response to our own perception of rejection.
Perception is not reality. Nonetheless, our flesh reacts to our perception. Our flesh’s reaction often triggers more negative behavior in the other person. And it can cause rejection where none had been. This cycle can be broken, if we can change our perception of others’ negative behavior. For example, what if, instead of perceiving rejection, we saw an indication the person is hurting and needs help? How would we respond differently? How might our more compassionate response improve their disposition?
This is far from easy, of course, and we do all need to be careful if someone truly means us harm.
Still, God can help us if we pray, acknowledge our weakness, and ask him to give us his eyes. He can also help us to treat others with respect and love even when we still find their behavior disrespectful and unloving. Again, abuse survivors, this does not mean we must let abusers keep hurting us. It means to set boundaries with respect and love. Typically, an abuser will decry any manner of boundary-setting as rude and unloving, so don’t allow them to be the judge. Let God show you how to love and respect the abuser as you also stop enabling them to keep sinning against you.
Finally, when you or a loved one is honestly struggling and truly wish to do better, give yourself or your loved one grace. Recognize where your and/or your loved one is at that day and set reasonable expectations of what can be accomplished. Lower the bar clear to basic safety levels, if necessary. Decide together on three baby steps in the right direction and take those steps together. Little by little can accomplish much and build confidence for more tomorrow.