I wanted her to know she’d hurt me. If I were being honest, I’d have to admit that I wanted to wound her back.
The more I licked my wounds, the angrier I got.
So I did what any reasonable, mature, Spirit-filled woman would do: I hinted about it on Facebook. Just a short statement. It looked innocent on the outside, but truthfully it was anything but innocent.
I came up with several variations of “take that” in my head before I landed on the perfect mixture of “Christianese” and “wounded warrior.” Then out it tumbled, for all the online community to see: “Lord, help me to have a forgiving heart.”
Mature, right? A prayer, even! Nice touch.
As you can probably guess, my plan backfired. It backfired for several reasons, but the biggest one was this: The so-and-so I was talking about … was my mom.
She called me. You know, on the phone. Like a grown-up. It was weird.
“Heidi?” my mom began. “If you have something to say to me, I wish you would just call me.”
Sure … I suppose I could have done that. But talking about it on Facebook seemed safer, easier, and just as effective.
Don’t you just hate it when Mom is right?
Addicted to Drama
Hi. My name is Heidi, and I’m a recovering drama addict. (See? Was that so hard?)
See if you can recognize any of the telltale signs of a drama addict. Drama addicts:
- insert themselves into situations where their presence isn’t necessary or warranted,
- get people stirred up over things that are of little to no significance,
- “need” to know about relationships that aren’t their own,
- live in the past,
- are in pain, and
- believe (or at least claim) that their motives for stirring up drama are pure (e.g., “I just want to help!”).
Recognize anyone from that list? Recognize yourself? If so, it’s time to get off the drama train. Be a no-drama mama! Moms today have enough on their plates without adding unnecessary drama to the list.
You may not feel like you have the inner strength to avoid drama, but take heart—you don’t have to do this alone. When we listen for the Holy Spirit, He will guide our words and our actions. We can learn to live in such a way that we sense God’s hand on our shoulders (or in my case, over my mouth!) whenever we’re tempted to stir up or engage in drama.
When we walk with the Spirit, He tells us when to speak up and when to be quiet. He’s good like that. So when you sense God saying, This isn’t for you, quietly excuse yourself.
That’s right—walk away. There’s nothing to say (or listen to) here. Believe me, it’s better that way. If you choose the path of discipline, you won’t have to live with the sting of regret.
Five ways to get (and stay) drama-free
The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to find peace amid the important relationships in our lives. Yet opportunities to stray outside His peace abound. Even prayer groups (where gossip is often justified under the guise of prayer requests) can turn sour if we’re not careful.
Here are a few tips to help:
We need to become better listeners. Women are nurturers by nature, but in this age of iPhones and computers, texting and tablets, we’re losing touch with the art of listening.
The goal of listening should always be to understand where the other person is coming from, not to formulate your next comeback or zinger. When both parties want to understand each other, relationships flourish and drama is rare.
2. Don’t drag others into the mud.
This means we consider the preciousness of the relationship around us, including the person we’re hoping will see that vague post we wrote. In the same way that we don’t need unnecessary drama, our friends don’t need it either. Drama is really just a mud pit, and if we care about our friends, we’ll steer them away from the pit, not into it.
If you find yourself starting to relate a story about how someone wronged you, you’re bringing unnecessary drama into the listener’s life by dragging them into the mud with you. Think before you speak. Remember, friends don’t invite friends into drama.
3. Stop trespassing.
This sounds simple, but when you’re prone to emotional trespassing (in other words, injecting yourself into a situation you have no business in), you invite drama into your peace. So, when you see one of those vague posts, don’t reply. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Or if you feel the need to reply, do it privately.
This is something we need to get right for ourselves and our children. On many occasions, Jay and I have asked our teens (especially the younger ones) to take things off social media. We have a “take it down and ask why afterward” approach, because more often than not, kids don’t even realize they’re trespassing. They need to know that inviting drama over for dinner is a disaster waiting to happen.
4. Stop, drop, and roll.
Think back to elementary school. Do you remember the slogan “Stop, drop, and roll”? I learned this simple saying when I was very young as a way to remember what to do in the case of a house fire. The next time you’re tempted to invite drama into your life, try this: “Stop, drop it, and roll on outta there.”
Do you need to be involved in the conversation? (Stop.) Are you bringing up past hurts and dragging people down? (Drop it.) Does the environment you’re in encourage drama and strife? (Roll on outta there.)
5. Don’t stir things up.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NIV). Boy, ain’t that the truth. Let me just add that a vague word stirs up anger too. If you feel the need to be vague because you’re upset with someone, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it at all. And putting things like “I can’t believe some people” on Facebook—well, that’s not getting us anywhere either.
Pursue peace instead of drama
The next time you’re tempted to jump into drama online or in real life, ask yourself, How is my presence in this situation going to help? Is it going to add unnecessary stress to my life or to someone else’s? If you can’t justify your participation, walk away.
It’s time to say no to drama, mama. If you need to address something that should be handled in private, then do it privately. If you’ve been hurt, don’t put it on the internet. Season your speech with grace. And if you’re in a relationship that continually pulls you down into the mud, it might be time to consider putting up healthy boundaries on that relationship (and maybe even ending it).
While we’ll never be totally drama-free this side of heaven, we can eliminate a lot of unnecessary conflict by being intentional about our relationships and the way we respond to divisive behavior. As mothers, we have an opportunity to show our children how to reduce drama in their own lives as we do so in our own.
It’s time to pursue peace—for our own sakes and for the sake of everyone who’s watching. Because when we choose our battles according to God’s leading instead of our flesh, it’s a win-win every time.
Adapted from Becoming MomStrong by Heidi St. John. Copyright © 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.