I fell headfirst into an emotional trigger last week. The words that rolled off my tongue and the anger that spewed through my actions brought shock and pain to the one my words landed on.
The trigger was from an emotional wound I thought had healed during my past ten years of isolation, learning, and leaning into God. Afterward, I was shocked, embarrassed, and repentant for my selection of words and the tone used to spew them into the atmosphere. I am told that my facial expressions indicated I had been pulled into the moment of a hurtful episode and was warding off an oppressor who was not present. That’s what a trigger does – it triggers painful emotions – until the emotion heals. They come with no warning, little grace, and fully loaded.
After the trigger outburst, I heard words in my spirit from James 3:10. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” The correction from the Spirit of the Lord caused my anger and hurt to lift. My heart softened, and I met with the Holder of my always healing heart. “Lord, purify my heart, tongue, and life so I do not tarnish your name nor grieve your spirit.”
The Repentant Heart
Within 15 minutes, I pulled it together and sought forgiveness from the recipient of my ungodly words and actions. The ugliness of that encounter sent me on a deep path of reflection and prayer, seeking God’s insight and healing to completely close this wound. I could justify the explosion, pretending it’s normal for broken people to break people, but is that better than the journey toward a Christlike character? Is it better to tell myself I’m right and live under the prideful weight of the pain I caused due to triggers that have not healed over the years? My emotional healing is MY responsibility. And when I cause pain to another, it is MY responsibility to seek forgiveness from the recipient, the Lord, and to forgive myself.
“Lord, teach me the better way.
Bring healing so your salve of healing can pour through me
rather than spewing my pain and injuring others.
Please cover me and do not allow my outburst to damage your name
or to tarnish my testimony for you or my reputation of loving and serving you.”
The Lord reminded me of a profound truth planted in my heart as a child. Today I harvest and share the fruit from that seed.
When I was in my early teens, I walked to a street corner and sat on a brick wall. It was a humid August day, I was bored, and swinging my feet from the 3 ft wall was something to do. Watching passing traffic seemed better than pulling weeds, which was mama’s suggestion. Headed home for his lunch break, dad drove by and saw me sitting on the wall. He called out, “Get home, now!” The tone of his voice sent fear down my spine. I sprinted home and arrived about the same time he pulled into the driveway. He had a simple yet profound truth for me. I didn’t understand his words at the time, but his truth was planted in my heart,
“Mary Ethel, good girls do not sit on street corners.
You only have one reputation.
If you tarnish it, it can take a lifetime to make it right.”
I didn’t know what a reputation was or why a good girl could not sit on a street corner. Today, I get it. Today, I understand.
My reputation is my testimony for Christ.
My life passion and desire are to reflect the light, love,
and joy of Christ to a darkened world.
Not simply to wear the word “Christian” as a label,
but to bear His glory through my lifestyle,
which creates my reputation.
After ten years of living in a quiet place of healing, the Lord has made ALL things new (except for a few lingering triggers He has yet to reveal). New relationships, a new home in a new city, a new church, new ministry opportunities, a new career, and new passions. He has given me wings to fly. Yet, as I soar to higher heights, as I experience new opportunities and step into new relationships, I am aware of the attempts of the enemy to again clip my wings so that my influence for Christ is snuffed out. I stand on guard, ready to battle for my King. I trigger and then retreat to the Lord, asking for His forgiveness so His light remains bright within me. And I continually seek His presence and His healing so my testimony and reputation point people to Him.
The enemy can very subtly and easily soil the witness, testimony, and reputation of those who are not paying attention. Everything we do matters! Someone is always watching to see whether we are the real deal or just wear the label, “Christian,” without truthfully representing Christ.
Does my testimony match my reputation?
Does my testimony point people to Jesus?
What is the reputation people attach to my name?
Does my reputation point people to Jesus?
Am I the real deal?
Lord, hold us steady. Help us represent you in such a way as to bring glory and honor to Your Holy Name.
May our walk match our talk. May our reputation point to you, the greatest testimony in life! Amen.