All defensiveness and emotional tumult is a fear response because of your need for acceptance and ruthless control of the territory of your safe fantasy world. Bryant McGill

Meditation: When somebody gives us feedback that we do not like, or we are being called on a behavior that negatively impacted others, it is understandable that we are feeling vulnerable and sensitive. Suddenly we feel anxious, and we want to get back to the moment before, when everything was fine in our “safe fantasy world”. It is hard and humbling to hear how our behavior impacted others negatively, especially when our intent was a good one. Our “ego” wants to be accepted for our well intentions, yet in its pride it often fails to take responsibility for how its actual behavior impacted others. Defensiveness can originate from both fear or pride. We don’t like to be wrong. We don’t like to be called on a weakness of ours. We are getting defensive when somebody criticizes us. We want to control how others see us, as we hate to be seen in a way that we can’t control and that we did not intend. Pride isolates. Fear isolates. The Spirit of God wants to help us to remain connected. The Spirit wants to guide us in both speaking the truth with love, and in accepting the truth with humility. Even if we did not intent a certain outcome, we are still the ones responsible. Being humble means to listen, even if it is uncomfortable and painful. Overcoming defensiveness means to respect the other person’s perspective, even if we disagree. It means letting go of control. Seeing myself through others’ eyes can be surprising, uncomfortable, humbling. And yet, this is what God’s community is about. We are learning to give and receive feedback with love and with humility.

Prayer: Gracious God, seeing ourselves through the eyes of others can be challenging. You are calling us to live as part of an accountable community. We all impact each other, and conflict in Your Church is inevitable at times. Help us to listen before we disagree. Help us to consider before we get defensive. Let us see each other as brothers and sisters who have the best intentions. Take our fear, our defensiveness and our prideful ego and help us to be present, to listen and to consider others’ feedback. God, help us to apologize where we unintentionally hurt somebody else. Amen

Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

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