A defensive attitude only hurts me.

Do you struggle with feeling defensive? I've got some ideas that will help you respond more graciously than a ruffled porcupine.What makes you feel defensive?

Today on Encouragement for Today, I shared a time when I felt very defensive. If you’ve already read my devotion, I’m so glad you stopped by my blog.  Welcome.

I thought it might be worth continuing the conversation about defensiveness for a bit, because I imagine I’m not the only one who feels that way now and again.

When I was younger, I could leap to a defensive posture in seconds. I always felt like I had something to prove, which created invisible barriers between me and others in many situations.  Rather than being encouraging of them, my defensiveness led me to be critical. Rather than fostering empathy, defensiveness created enmity.

As I thought about my defensiveness triggers, a few situations came to mind:

  • Someone questioned my abilities (either openly or in my imagination).
  • Someone misjudged me.
  • I compared myself to someone successful in an area I wanted success.

For so many years, I attached my worth to my performance,which is why these situations triggered a defensive reaction.  When my abilities or performance were questioned, my self-worth took a hit.  Comparisons were like a laser beam focused on my weak areas, and defensiveness became a shield.

The Lord started to dismantle my defensive tower as I grew to understand my true worth in His eyes. The more my heart accepted that I wasn’t defined by my abilities, the less defensive I became.

And the less defensive I became, the more I was able to love the other person, and learn from them.

I also had to learn that not every comment, every situation, every decision was about me. Everyone else was just dealing with their own stuff too. So rather than worry about how I was treated all the time, I started focusing on others. Really trying to see beyond and beneath what I could see.  What was underneath that smile? That creased brow? That worried look?

These verses in Galatians 5:13-15 speaks to the promise of being others-focused and the danger if we aren’t:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Isn’t that the truth of what can happen between us? I wish we could all just drop the facades and be honest about our struggles and weak areas. Humility is such a compelling quality. It disarms and diffuses the most difficult situations.

Maybe you don’t struggle with defensiveness, but you know someone who does. Take the time to see beneath the prickly exterior. There’s probably someone who has just had her self-worth shaken and needs to know she is perfectly loved just as she is by a Perfect God.

Thanks so much for joining me today.

I wish you a day filled with joy and love!