Dear Abigail

I was harshly reprimanded in front of others. How do I go forward?


Dear Abigail,

Recently I was talking to the wife of the retired pastor of the church where my husband is currently the pastor. As our conversation continued, the head deacon passed by and commented about how it had been so cold lately.

I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I know!”

Immediately, I was harshly reprimanded by the retired pastor’s wife in front of several church members.

I agree that this wasn’t the best choice of words for me to use, and I am working on that. But I am so upset! It was very embarrassing. And sadly, this wasn’t the first time this woman has “lined me out,” so this incident was the “icing on the cake” for me. I left immediately with good intentions to tell her how I really felt in an email.

But the next day as I sat at the computer to email her, I noticed that she had already sent me a very apologetic note indicating that she had a long way to go with her character. It was a nice gesture, but I’m wondering how to go forward now.


Dear Angry,

Whoever coined the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” may have been a little off base. Words do hurt. And we can’t take them back.

The Bible has much to say about our words. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (KJV). We all need to be more aware of how powerful our words can be to others.

It is perfectly understandable to have a visit with the wife of the retired pastor. Prayerfully ask God to give you wisdom as to how the conversation can be healing for both of you. It may be that she needs somebody to talk to, and that someone may be you! Rather than responding with anger, pray and ask God to give you an extra measure of love in your heart.

Many years ago a common acronym was WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). While you may be tempted to give a response that is laced with anger or bitterness, it would be wise to pause and ask, “What would Jesus do?” We should always be mindful of others when we speak in an effort to curtail damaging effects.

The world is certainly lacking when it comes to kind words, or better yet kindness in general. There are hurting people all around us and especially in our congregations. I know that God will help you do your part in building others up as we pray this simple yet profound prayer: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, KJV).

God is in the business of perfecting our characters; He wants us to depend totally upon Him for this beautiful transformation. Trust God to turn this bitter encounter into a blessed friendship.