I’m learning more and more that when I overreact to what people say to me, it could be because of what I “hear” them saying about me. They may not intend at all what I’m “hearing.” But the message they are sending is not the same message I’m hearing.

One of my “hooks” (what makes me upset) is the message, “Kathy, you are stupid.” I remember when Larry and I were making plans for our new home six years ago. I suggested we lay concrete on the side of the house so that we could put the trash cans there. Larry replied, “Why would you think that?” He didn’t mean anything by it; it might have even been a question for gathering information. But from the slightly tense tone of his voice, I heard, “Kathy, you are so stupid. Why in the world would you ever think that?” Larry swears he didn’t mean that but that’s what I heard, because I’m sensitive to people thinking I’m stupid.

Because I have a commitment to not be seen as stupid, I react in anger. Like a puffer fish, if I puff up in self protection, maybe you won’t see me the way I’m afraid you’ll see me. And anger usually involves pointing the finger at someone else, thus directing the attention onto them. Now you aren’t looking at me, (I hope)!

But my ungodly, unholy reaction reveals that I’m more interested in that person’s idea about me than God. That person has become my “functioning god” because he or she defines me. I think he is calling me stupid. I agree with him by getting angry.

Instead, holiness is reminding myself of who I am in Christ–not stupid but having the mind of Christ. God only should define me. I can take that person off the throne of my life as my “god” and re-install my Savior.

Even if another person sees me as stupid, it doesn’t matter. God knows the truth–and He’s the only one that matters. And if my fear is true (maybe I am “stupid” in a certain matter), I can ask for God’s wisdom.

The next time you start to react in an ungodly manner, try asking yourself and God, “What message am I hearing? What am I afraid they are saying about me?” If it’s not the truth, believe what God says about you and allow Him to define who you are.