Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Using Your Words to Heal

 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Mary Kassian says in any situation you can focus on the negative and complain, or you can find the positive and be grateful.

Mary Kassian: One way or the other will become a pattern and a way of life. If you choose the negative part, that's who you will become. And if you choose the positive part, that's who you will become.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 30, 2015.

Nancy: All this week my friend, Mary Kassian, has been our guest teacher talking about ways to glorify God and encourage others through our speech. She's talked about listening, resolving conflicts, encouraging others, and avoiding complaining.

If you missed any of this helpful series, you can hear it at www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, as Mary has been teaching this series, we've had a live audience here in our studio. Today Mary is going to have a Q and A time with those women about ways to live out these principles in the real world.

We'll start with a member of our audience who wants to grow in communicating with her fiancé. She'd like to know how to best respond when he doesn't listen the way that she would like.

Woman 1: He has a tendency to have a hard time talking about things sometimes. What he'll do is he'll laugh when we're having a serious conversation, and it's very, very frustrating to me. So I was wondering where would you say that would fall in one of these. And if it doesn't, what would you say about that because the fact that even if he does hear me, because he's laughing about it, I feel like it's not taken seriously, like he's not thoroughly listening. So I wondered if you had a comment on that.

Mary: I would say that's probably defensiveness, wanting to just keep the tough guy image or perhaps fear of vulnerability. I think men particularly have hard times opening up their feelings sometimes. If you get an opportunity, I would encourage you to get Conversation Peace and go through some of that. There are some techniques for being clear in what you say to him.

You can make a good statement. You can say, "Sweetheart, when you laugh off something that I see is a deep issue of your heart, I wonder if you're not wanting to open that part up to me, or whether you're afraid that I may laugh at you. I'm not sure where that's coming from. Is there a reason that when we discuss deep issues you laugh them off?" You can ask him something like that. You can just use good communication to try and get deeper and to figure out to unpack it a little bit and to try and find out where it's coming from.

There are differences with male/female communications. Sometimes you just need to learn. There are individual differences as well. People communicate in different ways, and so sometimes that's just a matter of understanding or sometimes understanding someone's communication pattern and just seeing that that's their way of speaking.

You always want to go to that well and draw out those deep waters. During the period of engagement is a very good time to be exploring and unpacking heart issues and learning how to speak and communicate at a deeper level.

Mary: My husband works as a chaplain for a professional sports team, CFL sports team up in Canada. We actually took some of the football players who were engaged as couples and went through Conversation Peace in teaching them how to communicate with one another and found it was a very helpful exercise.

Woman 2: When you talked about making communication tracks into other people's lives, one of the areas you discussed was being tender-hearted. It just struck me how proactive and vulnerable you need to be continually. The opposite of that, as you mentioned, was being hardhearted. And sometimes in relationships, if someone continues to be hardhearted, and you're working on being tender-hearted, it's difficult to continue to do that over and over again.

Mary: It is very difficult, and it hurts because often our hardheartedness is a self-protective mechanism where we put on this hard, crusty shell just because we can't bear to be hurt again. And the only thing I can say to that is that we need to turn to the Lord to meet our needs and to meet our desires.

We can't rely on other people to be that for us. First and foremost it needs to be God who is my identity, who is my protector, who is my strong tower, who is my comfort, who is the one who affirms me. And when I'm drawing that from the Lord, then I have a much larger tolerance of being able to take things from other people and not grow hardhearted towards them but to remain tender-hearted because I'm not looking to that person to meet my needs. I'm looking to God to meet my needs.

Woman 3: Mine question is kind of off of the tender-hearted and trying to be tender-hearted. I have had some women come to me, and the person that is hurting them is their own husband with their words. That is really hard because at what point do you say this is really almost an abuse-type of thing rather than just . . . after years and years and years, they feel beaten down. How do you help be a blessing to that woman?

Mary: Tender-heartedness is not the only thing that is called for when we're laying tracks into other people's lives. It also calls for honesty. I tell women that their husbands are not mind readers. Their husbands cannot know what's going on in their wife's heart. It's the wife's responsibility to her husband to reveal and to become vulnerable and to speak and tell him what's going on in her heart.

If she's feeling hurt and wounded by his words, then it's important for him to understand that. But it's important for the wife to communicate that in a way that's constructive and that builds the relationship and that is ultimately for his benefit. It is for his benefit to understand that he's hurting you. You need to say, "This is hurtful. This is how I respond when you do this. This is how I feel when you say this. Please do not say that anymore." And to make that appeal and to do it in a way that is gentle, is respectful, and its aim is to improve the relationship and to take the relationship to a better level.

So tender-heartedness is not the only thing that you're dealing with. Tender-heartedness is important because you don't want to become bitter, and you don't want to become crusty and angry and resentful. You're not able to respond well if you're not tender-hearted.

So tender-heartedness is just part of the equation, but you also have to add honesty in there, authenticity, and also the other tracks that we've talked about—humility and faithfulness. Just having your speech be faithful and your speech be a blessing.

So there's a lot of components, and normally I see the tensions often between husbands and wives, because that's your most intimate relationship, and so that's the place you're most vulnerable to being hurt, and that's the place where it's easiest to become the most hardhearted.

So it's important for wives to retain that tender-heartedness, but to also be honest and really to put up some statements sometimes even in terms of protection or boundaries if there is some crossing over the line and perhaps getting some other people to engage and to help in the relationship at that point.

Woman 4: I have a comment, and then I have a question. All of it was really good, but one thing that stood out to me was the third session about grace. I just pictured what Christ did on the cross for me and the grace that He lavished on me. How can I not lavish that on others? I just felt like the Lord really used that in my life today.

Another question, I thought a lot of your tips were really good about asking the question and going down with my tone. I know I catch myself asking a lot of loaded questions, especially with my children. 

Mary: Don't you have homework?

Woman 4: Yes, but I'll catch myself saying . . . Maybe we're at the park in the fall. I love the leaves, and I'll catch myself a lot of times saying, "Isn't this just so beautiful? Don't you just think this is so wonderful?" But it's like it's an ended question because what are they going to say back to me? I know this is kind of a silly question, but how would you be able to share your excitement and at the same time be able to let them share? Do you know what I mean? I catch myself asking a lot of loaded questions where they don't get to respond because I've answered them for them. How would you address that?

Mary: Yes. I would say that you begin to use the right tool for the right job. So if you're wanting to make a statement, then make a statement. You can say, "Look at the beautiful yellow color in those leaves. I love that color. I just love the way it makes everything pop out in the fall." And you can ask a question. You can say, "Is there anything that you notice that strikes you, that you think is extra beautiful?" You can ask them a question, an open-ended question.

It's not written in stone. The world is not going to end if you ask a question and it's a rhetorical question where you're saying, "Don't you just love it?" Obviously nothing is going to fall from the sky and go, "That was a loaded question!"

Particularly if you're wanting to engage in ideas or understanding people, then you want to use the right tools, and especially in situations where there's potential for tension or potential for misunderstanding. You want to be very careful not to use loaded questions or leading questions or questions where you're not asking a question but you're passing judgment.

You want to use the right tool. So you just bring out more statements. You'll catch yourself doing it more, and then you'll be able to correct it.

Woman 4: You brought in judgment, which is a body language, too, because I get it from my family. "Why do you judge?" And I'm like, "I really wasn't judging, was I?" And they're like, "Yes, you were."

What is the body language for judgment? And then what are some patterns? Do you have a pattern for judgment that you can break, or do you have a chapter on it in the book?

Mary: Well, I think with judgmental speech you're going to have body language that is very aggressive. It's the scowl or leaning forward or kind of overly forward, not leaning in to listen, but almost in an accusatory that is very aggressive with an accusatory posture going on.

Also, your tone of voice is going to be more clipped. It's going to be more rapid. Your voice will be higher. It will be more intense when you're talking about something. You can actually hear the difference when you try and say the same thing in a way that's calm and not combative.

There is a section in Conversation Peace. In the Bible metal was used for two purposes. In times of peace they would take the metal and pound it into what was called the plowshare for harvesting and for farming the fields and for harvesting crops. Then they would reheat the metal and pound it into swords for use in battle and for fighting.

I think our tongues are like that. Our tongues are like edges that we can use them either way. We can use them constructively to harvest and to cultivate relationships, or we can use them in battle posture. There are certain ways that you can identify when you are in battle posture. You can start to recognize it in your body language or in your emotions, or you can even feel tighter in your muscles, instead of feeling relaxed.

If you're non-defensive, then the person can tell you whatever they want, and it doesn't impact you one way or the other. You may disagree with them, but you're not like . . . this. Right?

So I think you start recognizing it in yourself. If you cultivate humility and ask the Lord to give you a humble spirit where you can even just apologize and say, "You're right. I did have a judgmental tone, and I'm trying to get it out of my words because I truly want to know your heart, and I don't want to be judgmental. So please do point it out when you see it in me, and I will work on it." Just be humble and be open and admit that it's hard for you. I think kids are pretty gracious and forgiving.

Woman 5: You talked about dealing with difficult people, and you also said the word "mother-in-law."

Mary: And do those belong in the same sentence?

Woman 5: At times, sometimes they do. My mother-in-law is starting to go through Alzheimer's.

Mary: Oh, I'm so sorry.

Woman 5: My husband is one of her main caregivers. In fact, he goes down there two to three times a week and spends the night down there. I had to go and check on her yesterday, and she couldn't just . . . We say, "She's wearing her crabby pants today." I'm just starting to get convicted over even saying that about her and being careful. The Lord is just kind of saying, "Be careful of how you speak about her," because, I think, you harvest the words that you're sowing.

Mary: Yes.

Woman 5: So, just a little advice on . . . You really pointed out that grace is unmerited. Are there are certain verses that pop up in your mind? I mean, I could do a Bible study myself on grace or something. But I know sometimes there are powerful verses that will just stop you in your tracks. Like, "Man's anger does not . . .

Mary: . . . bring out the righteousness that God desires."

Woman 5: That helps me a lot in anger.

Mary: Yes. I love John 10:10 where it just talks about just from the abundance of His grace we have received, and it's like more and more abundance upon abundance. Just to focus on abundance and being grateful for what you do receive.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote something that I wrote down as a quote as a young woman. It hung in my office for years and years and years. It was just on a scrap of paper. I actually heard it on a radio show, and it was the precursor, I think, for Revive Our Hearts. She said, "It is always possible to be grateful for what is received rather than resentful over what is withheld. One or the other becomes a way of life."

That was a powerful statement to me, and I reminded myself of that often. I think, in the case of someone who is actually going through a medical condition that's very difficult. It's always possible to be grateful for what is given and for what she is able to give you and for what you have received and for the good things that she did as a mom. It's possible to have gratitude.

It's possible to have gratitude for those glimmers of her true self for those moments where there's just something precious about them. It's possible to have gratitude for the opportunity to serve her and for the opportunity to minister the heart of Christ and the compassion of Christ for someone who is hurting so badly.

It's possible to do that rather than focusing on the toughness and the hard part of it. And one way or the other will become a pattern and a way of life. If you choose the negative part, that's who you will become. And if you choose the positive part, that's who you will become. And you want to become other. You want to become a beautiful, lovely old lady that people desire to be around. So that's the type of grace you want to minister to her.

It's not easy, and it's not easy to live with a difficult person or a difficult husband. I just think Scripture is so encouraging. It says to this Christ has given us an example. He didn't revile when He was reviled. He was the one that ministered grace. And because of that, we can go to Him for the stores and the strength and the ability for each day as we need that portion of grace. We need to get it from Him, so we can become a grace giver for others.

It's hard, but the Lord gives grace, and where we are lacking, He gives more.

Woman 6: I love that whole concept of gracing people out instead of calling them out. God gave me the opportunity of walking alongside a twenty-something year old before she enrolled in Denver Seminary for a degree in counseling. And one of the joys is to listen to everything she's learning.

One of the things that had been brought out to her in the books on counseling, both from a secular world view and a Christian world view, was the phrase "unconditional, positive regard." Even secular books will use that phrase, and that's exactly what you've described for us.

We often hear of unconditional love, which is a very biblical term, but that unconditional, positive regard does not show judgment but is known by mercy. I appreciate how you have called us up to a standard that was modeled in Jesus. Then we have the ability to place ourselves at the foot of the cross where we get that ability to be positively regarding those people who are hurting and wounded and seeing their pain rather than judging it. So thank you.

Woman 7: I have seen myself in these personifications—several of them. I see the ineffective communication techniques, and I'm thinking, Okay, Lord, I want You to change these things in me. But I think because I've seen them, I also see them in loved ones and close friends. And I wondered, do I have to wait until I've mastered these things, or what's the effective way to lovingly share, "I see this in you because I also see it in myself"? How do you communicate that in love?

Mary: I think as you change, you motivate change in others. I think instead of pointing out their failings, you just say, "Listen, what I am learning and what God is teaching me in my life.  . . God is teaching me about humility, and this is what I've learned." And then the Holy Spirit will become their counselor and begin to address issues in their heart.

Or perhaps you just want to share some information. You say, "Listen, I'm reading this great book, and I'm learning a lot. Do you want to go through it with me?"

It depends on who the relationship is with and what the nature of your relationship is, definitely. If you're talking about a marriage, if you're talking about a relationship where there's a covenant commitment to intimacy and to wanting to go to those deeper levels, then it's good to work on that. And it's good to say, "Listen, here's some resources, and I would love for you to help me as I work on this because I see this as an issue in my life, and would you be willing to do a study with me, or could we read this together?"

It's good to work on communication. It's a great skill to work on and all the more powerful when we do it God's way, and we allow Him to change our hearts and to actually get to the heart issues and not just the mouth, like the external issues, but the internal ones, I think the Lord is well pleased because a lot of the things we saw in Scripture, a lot of the applications of demonstrating truth and demonstrating that we do belong to Jesus, are in how we use our mouth and how we communicate.

Nancy: That's Mary Kassian in a very practical series on the way we use our words. She'll be right back.

Mary has been our guest teacher this week on Revive Our Hearts.

Now, learning to live out what we've heard is a lifelong process. This teaching has been just a starting point, and I hope that you've been more motivated to dig more deeply into this topic. You can do that by using Mary's workbook called Conversation Peace. It's a Bible study that will help you explore more of what God's Word has to say about the importance of our words, and it will help you identify practical ways to grow in how you use your words.

During today's question and answer session, someone asked Mary for more details about the workbook, Conversation Peace. Here's what she had to say.

Mary: We were just discussing different needs of women and some of the top needs of women, and communication was one that came up. It's really interesting because when I started writing it, I started, "Well, this will really help all those women who have problems with their mouths." And then as I got into it, I'm like, "I have a lot of problems with my mouth." So the Lord used it in a very big way to convict me.

I have done this study numerous times, and every time I go back and do it, there's something new I learn, and I go, "Oh, my goodness. I better start applying that. Did I write that? Oooo, the Lord has a lot of work to do."

So it's the type of topic that is so beneficial to us, and it is something that we can use repeatedly throughout our lives, and it does make an important difference in our relationships. I have had women who have come to me, and they have told me they've done Conversation Peace seven or eight times, and they're still learning. I've had women come and just cry and say it's changed their marriages; it saved their relationship with their children; it made such an important difference. And God's Word does that.

I believe communication is such a key area for the evil one to attack us and also for us to see redemption and righteousness come through redeemed words. I just think it's a powerful topic.

Nancy: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size, we'd like to send you a copy of this workbook, Conversation Peace.

Now, have you ever wondered why we ask for a donation of any size when we offer a resource like this? It's because we're asking the Lord for partners in this ministry. We're not really looking for customers. We want to connect with listeners, like you, who believe in this ministry and want to see it continue. We need your support, but we trust the Lord to lay on your heart the amount that He would want you to give.

When you call with your gift, be sure to ask for Conversation Peace, Mary's workbook. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or you can make your donation online. You'll have an opportunity to request Conversation Peace there at the website. The address is www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, on Monday I'm going to be talking with you about mountains and valleys. We all go through both from time to time. You'll see that God is with you in the highs and the lows. So please be back Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

As a podcast listener, you're going to hear some bonus material that we didn't have time to air on the broadcast. Mary is giving some more biblical advice on speaking with grace. She says words are like tools, and you use different tools for different jobs.

Mary: Three basic tools. There's your questions, your statements, and then your forecasts: "If this happens, then I'm going to do . . . these are the consequences." Three different tools of the trade.

And the problem is, people often use questions when they're trying to give an opinion, they'll use a question, and that's the wrong tool to be using. When you're giving an opinion, you should be using a statement, not a question.

So you can kind of start watching yourself. For instance, if my husband was doing something, and I said, "Do you want to know a better way of doing that?" That's the question, but it's the wrong tool. What am I really saying? "That's really dumb," or "I know a better way of doing that." Right? Or if you were to say, "How do I look in this dress?" I suppose that could be a curious question, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

But some people use the wrong tools for the wrong thing. So when you're asking questions, you should not be giving opinions with your questions. Your questions should be innocent and neutral and just looking for information.

And one of the important things when you are asking questions and you are looking for information is to keep your voice neutral when you're asking the question. As soon as your voice starts going up, and you start taking off like the plane, it sounds like your emotions are taking off like a plane, and all of a sudden your question becomes like you're ramping up, and you're not asking a question. It's almost like you're expecting a certain answer, or you're showing your irritation or something.

So, for instance, here's a question: Are you feeling upset about that? Now, I want you all to say that. Ask the person next to you that question: Are you feeling upset about that? For how many of you did the question go, "Are you feeling upset about that?" (Mary asking with a higher voice at the end of question.)

Did the plane take off? You're down the runway and all of a sudden the plane goes rrrrrrr. Your voice went up. Your emotions went up. And all of a sudden it becomes like a big emotional question.

Let's try it again. Try and do it two different ways. Do it with your voice taking off, and then try and do it with your voice going down at the end of the question. Okay? Just do it out loud with your neighbor. Can you tell the difference? What's the difference?

If I ask my husband, "Are you feeling upset about that?" (Mary's voice goes up at the end.) What's he going to take out of that? I'm irritated or that I'm making a judgment about his emotions.

But if I ask him, and I'm genuinely curious, and if I control my voice and keep it neutral, and I make it go down at the end of the sentence, I go, "Honey, are you upset about that?" (Mary's voice goes down at the end.)

Where's the difference there? I sound like I'm wanting to know instead of casting judgment. Okay? So if you can practice your questions so that they don't take off like a plane at the end, but that they actually stay down and even drop, then it sounds like a much more neutral question, and chances are you will get more of an honest answer.

Try one more. "Do you feel like I'm being harsh?" (Mary 'growls' at the end.) Do I sound like I'm wanting the information? No. I'm sounding judgmental. "Do you think I'm being harsh?" (Mary drops her voice at the end.) What does that sound like? Like I would really like to know. Like this is a serious question, and I'm open to hearing your answer regardless of what that answer might be.

Do you hear the difference there? It takes a little bit of practice, but if you are able to do it, you can train your voice to do that, and you will find that as you control your voice to do that, you will actually start controlling your emotions, and you will be more open to hearing the information and to be genuinely interested in hearing it.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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