Challenging Defensive Thoughts
A guest post by Kristen Rimer Terrette
Defensiveness. The desire to challenge or avoid criticism.
When was the last time you felt this way? Maybe when you went on the defense because you perceived a threat to your integrity about a situation?
If you’re on social media, it’s likely you can say this recently happened to you. It seems confrontation and combativeness are a part of daily life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Even if you weren’t the one who “came out swinging,” you might have felt the need to stand up for yourself or others by merely reading the comments on a feed.
The physical and emotional feelings that come with defensiveness usually aren’t good. I loathe conflict of any kind and will avoid it all costs, but every once in a while, my hackles go up. I’m like a lion in sheep’s clothing. Wanting to remain a sheep most of the time, but when needed the lioness inside can and will make an appearance.
A while back, the lioness appeared as I had a defensive reaction to a situation.
I received a comment from a reader on one of my articles about (in short) God loving and showing off His creativity through our skin colors. The reader asked me, “How would you feel about your daughter dating a person of color?”
Quickly, many defensive thoughts and assumptions ran through my mind. I assumed the person saw my author picture—therefore recognizing I was a white woman—then proceeded to pose this baited question in an effort to trip me up, to expose me as a hypocrite.
Irritation and something very close to anger ran through me. I almost started typing a quick and snarky response. Something to defend myself, like “My daughter has dated men of color already. And we loved each of them.” Those words would’ve had an underlining current, saying, “Ha! You didn’t trip me up!”
But the Holy Spirit pulled me back from typing anything right away and thank goodness for that!
Because the more I thought about it, the more God birthed in me an even bigger desire for racial unity and reconciliation, as I realized this person did not trust me.
Now, I recognize my initial thoughts were based on assumptions, but it’s like God wanted me to see, through this situation and my reaction, that trust is not a given. If someone or group has been wronged, trust is not handed over freely, no matter your skin color.
This realization changed my viewpoint, and when I did construct a response, I tried to put one small drop of trustworthiness back into an empty bucket for us (White people) as a whole. I hope I achieved this, because it’s so important as we work to undo past hurts.
Trust is foundational for all relationships. When trust is broken, even if you feel like you didn’t specifically cause this break, the relationship is strained. As a White woman, I want to do my part in planting seeds of trustworthiness as I interact with all people.
Next time your own hackles go up, stop and breathe. Process and pray then ask yourself these questions: Where is the root of my defensiveness coming from? What am I not seeing on the “other side of the story”?
Use these answers to challenge yourself, pushing down anger and drawing out love instead.
Let’s make an effort to reestablish trust between each other by listening, learning, and helping one another move toward racial reconciliation.
Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.
She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.
She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.
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