Verbal Sparring Partners

Henri Nouwen, a favorite writer of mine, writes this: It seems that I am perpetually involved in long dialogues with absent partners, anticipating their questions and preparing my responses. I am amazed at the emotional energy that goes into these inner ruminations and murmurings.

Does anyone else struggle with this too? Replaying in your mind pretend conversations about how things could have gone? Creating new situations in your thoughts where you get verbal revenge, with a great response?

What I love about Nouwen’s quote is that he gets it right. When I look back on my life I’m amazed at the amount of emotional energy and time I give to these fake situations. I’m amazed at how much thought space these pretend situations, that flow out of real people, take up.

After realizing that, I’ve decided to give up the fight. I no longer want to have pretend verbal sparring with the difficult people in my life. I no longer want to replay how conversations could have happened or should have happened. I no longer want to give up that time and energy.

The question is how?

Because my guess is that if you’re like me you get stuck there. So the question is how do you let go? How do you give up the mental fight? How do you let your verbal sparring partners go?

The answer is easy but hard to live out.

It’s simple: start to bless them and pray for them.

Jesus teaches us that we should pray for our enemies. What he is teaching is not just about our posture towards others but where our time and thoughts should go. So now every time my mind starts to pick up that conversation, preparing answers, playing out situations, I stop and pray. I say,” God bless this person. God be with that organization. God give grace to that committee, group, or family member”. I start to change my thoughts for sparring to blessing.

And that one little change, changes everything…

So why not try it today. Seek to bless rather than rehearse verbal dialogues..

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