“Dear Lysa, You should be ashamed for writing a Christian book about healthy eating. How dare you perpetuate the world’s lie that we should care about such things. I think your book is nothing more than a crass attempt to make money.”
Ouch. After almost a year of pouring my heart, soul, and many prayers into my book “Made to Crave,” getting an email like that hurt!
Oh precious friend, those kind of notes slip into our inbox and leave us feeling anything but (in)couraged, right? Whether they are addressing something you’ve written, one of your kid’s actions at the neighborhood pool, a friend who feels you slighted her, a family member’s need to be ‘honest,’ or one of the hundreds of other reasons people lash out through email- it stinks!
Hurtful emails are an unfortunate part of life. And since most of us will get an ugly email sent to us at some point, I thought I’d give three tips that have helped me diffuse hurtful email situations.
1. Start the response by honoring the one offended.
This isn’t easy. We probably won’t feel like they deserve honor in that moment. And maybe they don’t. But us giving honor says more about our character than their’s… so take the high road right away. Here’s how I do this…
Thank you for caring enough about me (or my ministry/business) to take the time to make me aware of your concerns.
2. Keep your response short and full of grace.
The more wordy we get the more we run the risk of slipping into defensiveness. If something needs to be clarified keep it concise and wrapped in grace. For example…
I understand how hard it must have been when you felt….
Might I share from my heart what I intended when I said….
Thank you for extending me grace on….
(And if an apology is appropriate…) Please accept my most sincere apology for…
3. End with an extension of love.
Chances are this person is hurting for many more reasons other than this situation. Why not be the rare person that offers love to the hard to love person…
With more love and compassion than these words can hold, Lysa
Please remember, not every harsh email needs a response. Ask God to help you know when to deal with it and when to delete it.
But when we do need to respond remember there is a big difference between a reply and areaction.
Reactions are typically harsh words written to prove how wrong the sender of the original email is. No good ever comes from this.
A gentle reply on the other hand, “turns away much wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) This doesn’t mean you’re weak… it actually means you possess a rare and godly strength.
I pray you don’t need this advice today… but just in case you do, I hope it helps.