Another Voice: Taking the High Road

Sometimes I get sick of hearing my own “voice”,  so I’ve asked a few people to be guest bloggers. My sister-in-law and friend was the first to take the bait. I think it is fabulous. Enjoy! (And, by the way, if you want to be a guest blogger, ask me. I’d love to hear your perspective.) ~~ Sharon

This is written by Laura King.  I am Sharon’s sister-in-law, and she graciously invited me to write a guest blog on her space.      

The expression “taking the high road” means acting in an honest, fair and moral way.  It means doing the right thing, even if it is not easy or popular.  This sounds easier than it actually is.  Consider this situation: you are driving to work, and suddenly a car cuts in front of you.  How do you react?  Are you upset?  Do you honk your horn, or call the driver names?  None of these reactions would be considered “taking the high road”.  Now, consider the same situation, but this time you are the driver that is late for work, and you suddenly realize that you are going to miss your exit unless you get over.  You frantically merge over into the next lane so you can make your exit.  Are you upset that the driver behind you is honking and calling you names?  It is not easy to react to criticism without taking offense, even when we may be in the “wrong”.

There are more complicated situations where taking the high road is even more difficult.  I was recently involved in a situation in which a woman was planning an event for our group.  She asked for help, so several people in our group made suggestions.  A few days pass after these suggestions were made, and I receive a very hateful email from the woman planning the event.  She accused me and the others of taking over the event, claimed that we backstabbed her, and said that she felt like leaving the group.  The email was sent only to me, and was very personally attacking.

I’ll admit, my first reaction was not the high road.  My first reaction was to shovel up every single one of her words, and dump it back on her with an additional helping of rightful indignation.  How dare she criticize me!  I was only trying to help, something that she asked me to do!
I actually had to call another friend in our group, and ask her to talk me out of spewing the hate.  It took some time for me to calm down.   I had to consciously stop myself from replaying the email over in my head, planning my rebuttals to her various accusations.  I also remembered something I had just read from Lysa TerKeurst’s book “Unglued, Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.”  She encourages us to “make the gospel known whenever [we] open [our] mouth,” based on Ephesians 6:19 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”  Lysa gives suggestions on how to respond to someone’s attack without exploding.

It was very difficult to compose and send the reply email.  It went something like this:

Dear (X), I can tell that you have a big heart and care deeply about this…
Please let me emphasize that there was never an intention, by anyone, to take anything away from you. This is a very critical and important event …I only wanted to help, as I know how difficult it can be when I try to do everything myself. …I hope you will continue to lead this project! 
Please accept my apologies for any hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

I did not respond or address any of her attacks, and after awhile, I was finally able to send it.

How did that feel?  At first, it didn’t feel as good as I thought defending myself would feel.  I had perfect come-back remarks that would put her in her place, and I felt like I had lost an opportunity to score some “points”.  It was humbling to respond to this verbal assault with an apology.  It made me think of another expression: “turning the other cheek”, which means staying calm when someone hurts or insults you.  It comes from the bible: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39.  It means loving your enemy enough not to strike back at them (even when you feel like they deserve it!)

You know what happened?  The woman planning the event responded to my email with her own apology!  I was stunned.  She said she realized she had been selfish and defensive, and would like to use several of our suggestions.  When I saw her at our next group meeting, she hugged me and apologized again.

So instead of making a bad situation worse, my response helped keep the group together, and brought this woman back instead of estranging her.  Now that’s the high road!

This is my first blog!  I welcome comments here or to Sharon’s email and she will forward them to me.  I hope to write again!

9 Comments on “Another Voice: Taking the High Road

  1. Nicely done, Laura! Thanks for the reminder. What I love about your “apology” is that you didn’t beat up on yourself; you acknowledged the her pain, and you enabled you both to move forward. Maybe most importantly, you allowed her to acknowledge her own fault without shaming her or making her defensive.

  2. I’ve also realized, Laura, that your apology reminds me of a recovery slogan, THINK. Many of us use it as an acronym while we ponder our responses, asking ourselves are they Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary, and Kind. Obviously, yours was.

  3. What a beautiful story. It is also a great reminder for the rest of us to stop, think, and take the high road. It is so difficult to take back hurtful words; it may be difficult to leave them unsaid, but it is often so wise to do so. You have a beautiful heart.

    • Laura, thanks for being my guest blogger. I loved your topic. There were two things I really liked about this (other than the writing itself).

      1. I loved the fact that you called your friends to talk about your feelings and what to do before you responded. I have found that to be so important for me. I don’t always see the big picture especially when I get triggered about not being lovable. I go down the rabbithole and that’s all I see/feel. My friends help me see the bigger picture and empathize with what I might be feeling.

      2. Your actions gave your friend the dignity to ask for what she needed even though she didn’t do it so gracefully. The fact is she said something instead of just dissing the whole thing and your friendship. Now, she knows that she can speak her mind but maybe do it in a kinder way and still get love and respect from her friends. I think most of us have to learn to do that. It’s really hard to say what we need, and, I know the first times I did that, I probably screamed it in anger. In fact, I know I’ve done it to you! It takes awhile to ask for what you need and do it with kindness. You gave her acknowledgment that she was important even if she wasn’t perfect. That’s pretty powerful for both of you.

      Love it!! Keep coming back, girlfriend! I’d love to have you as a guest blogger again.

  4. Bravo Laura!
    You did the “right thing” & were justly rewarded!
    It’s been my experience that when I don’t react, I am able to act calmly & “take the high road” rather than stir the pot with anger a make the situation worse.
    A little patience & prayer goes a long way fir me!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Laura, this was so good! I love to hear how people turn to God’s word when they have a problem that seems to be too complicated for solving for both parties. I am so proud of you!

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