Verbal abuse and our response
WHAT wounded feelings and resentment can result from verbal abuse! Many people even carry childhood hurts into adulthood. When verbally attacked, our inclination may be to argue, retaliate, or justify ourselves. But as St. Paul admonishes us: ``Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.... Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.''1 We have to stand back from the business of getting even and be active in the business of loving and forgiving.
Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, was accused of being a winebibber, glutton, blasphemer, friend of sinners, and of breaking the Ten Commandments by healing on the Sabbath day. But Jesus walked calmly on, always conscious of his unbreakable relationship to his heavenly Father, and he urged his disciples to return good for evil.
Despite appearances, our well-being is not truly dependent on the approval or disapproval of others but on God. We can learn to protect ourselves from verbal aggression through this understanding.
The human view is that man can be a victim or perpetrator of evil -- in other words, that he has a selfhood apart from God. But the Bible assures us that man is created by God in His likeness. This is the eternal, spiritual reality of existence, in which there can be no separation between creator and creation. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy2 speaks of the true selfhood of each of us in answer to the question ``What is man?'' It says: ``Man is spiritual and perfect.... Man is idea, the image, of Love....'' And she describes him further as ``that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.''3
Each individual is created as the loved and loving offspring of God and therefore is innocent. From a common perspective, detrimental character traits appear to be a natural and unavoidable part of man. But they are no part of true, spiritual identity. In divine reality it's impossible for man to be hurtful and unkind.
Pride, egotism, self-will, spring from a false sense of selfhood apart from God. But we must try and see more of man's true, spiritual identity and show a greater willingness to let God's will be done.
Acknowledging our inseparable relationship to God and learning to love our neighbor with unconditional, unselfish love, we'll gain dominion over verbal aggression. It is spiritually inherent in us to love, and the more clearly we recognize this, the more it will become evident in our experience. This is a vital element of our defense. St. Paul says, ``Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.''4
Someone verbally attacked me one day for not doing something he wanted. Formerly, I would have argued, justified myself, or even made a counter accusation. But now, because of my study of Christian Science, I found myself responding in a very different way. I answered briefly, humbly, and honestly and refused to accept the thought that strong human opinion or disapproval could be the actual governing force of my life. The other person withdrew, and the next day he told me about his problems. I had made a friend instead of an enemy. And I had proved the wisdom of letting our actions grow out of a spiritual understanding of man.
1Romans 12:19-21. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 475. 4Ephesians 6:11.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44