'Help' is a prayer that is always answered.
- Anne Lamott
I received an email this week from an acquaintance who was angry at me. His missive contained a lot of snark; if the writer meant to hurt, he did. It didn’t help that his nastiness was fueled by a number of false assumptions, since my heart immediately latched on to the need to set him straight.
I began to type furiously, but after giving vent to my feelings had the good sense to stop and toss out a whole paragraph that–though gratifying to say– zapped and stung. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, and all that (1 Peter 3:9).
I started a second draft, then had to pause to delete several sentences that were true but unwise. Pointing out how unreasonable he was being wasn’t going to get the relationship back on track. Neither his salvation nor mine were on the line; it didn't really matter (except to my pride) who was right.
Drafts three, four and five were further proof that responding in a Christian manner is sometimes a beastly amount of work.
I submitted each draft to my acid test: If someone who didn’t know me or know anything about the situation read my words, would my response come across as an example of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”? (Galatians 5:22)
Eventually I came up with a response that felt honest and true, unencumbered by anger, hurt or pride. I read it over one last time, examining my heart for any gentle pricks of conscience. With a small prayer, I hit "send."I don’t know what response I’ll get.
I do know that I responded in faith instead of reacting from emotion, and I think that’s all God asks.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.