We must be alert to his tactics. Here’s one. I’m interested in hearing whether you’ve noticed this one before.
Look at the contrast between the following statements:
- My husband never takes out the trash.
- My daughter never says please.
- My boss never compliments me.
- My friend always disappoints me.
What is Satan’s sneaky secret for turning truth into lies? “Absolute” words. Absolute words are words that create a perspective of “all or nothing.” Here are some of those kinds of words:
- all the time
- every time
Those words discourage, condemn, and give support for responding with ungodly responses. They steal hope, are perfectionistic, and create anger. After all, if a person has never done anything right, we feel justified in believing they will never change and maybe even hate us. We can’t believe they will ever change.
I know all about this because I cooperated with Satan’s sneaky strategy for years and it almost destroyed my life, marriage, and relationship with my daughter.
Only God’s intervention enlightened my thinking to discover how “absolute” words affected me. I realized I saw other people and life through a cloud of perfectionistic thinking. I couldn’t give any credit to anyone, even God, for whatever they did that was right or loving.
But in time, I changed my words. Here’s how the phrases changed:
- My husband sometimes forgets to take out the trash but I sometimes forget to do things he likes. Come to think of it, he did take out the trash when I asked a few weeks ago.
- My daughter doesn’t say please as often as I’d like but she’s still a toddler and that’s something she will learn as I faithfully teach her.
- My boss never compliments me and actually that’s true. But even if he doesn’t, God knows my efforts and he affirms me as His servant. I don’t need my boss’s approval because I have God’s.
- My friend is imperfect like me so she is going to disappoint me just like I have disappointed her. Satan wants to use my disappointment to destroy a friendship and bring dishonor to my King. I’m going to focus on the good things she’s done.
In each of these examples, we must give grace knowing no one is perfect and we are first on the list. That’s why God’s gracious love sent Jesus. The way to give grace is to omit the “absolute” words from our thinking and talking. To give credit for even a small change or small action.
How do you stop perfectionistic thinking with “absolute” words? I’d love to hear.
My book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom gives more details about how God helped me identify the destruction of “absolute” words, along with many other ideas for overcoming parenting frustration and perfectionism. Check out more information here.