Defensiveness doesn’t get you what you want. If you want to be respected, heard, perceived as mature, stop being so combative. Let your actions speak for themselves, let your words be rich with what you mean to say and display your maturity when you can admit you were misinformed or simply made a mistake.
Remember though, overcoming defensiveness doesn’t make you a martyr. If this is all about you, you’ve learned nothing. The best way to overcome is to discover and embrace your identity, who you are.
These aren’t simply words you utter to the world, these are moves you make, stances you claim and issues you intend to confront by the flags you put into the sand.
I remember in high school (when I was super conservative, legalistic, and graceless) I would “make statements” all the time. I remember my friends going to see a movie that had profanity in it. When asked if I’d like to go I made the most horrified facial expression I could muster and definitively said “no thank you.” All my friends loved the movie, were unphased by the profanity (when you go to public school I guess you get a little desensitized to it… we don’t get that being homeschooled…)
I remember in my little convicted mind wondering with whom I’d found myself associating and questioned the salvation of each and every patron of that movie… especially those who claimed to be followers of Christ.
So I made sure any time the movie was quoted and laughter ensued, I’d decidedlynot laugh. I didn’t want to give any credibility to this flagrant hedonism.
You know what I’ve realized since? No one heard my “statement.” No one cared, no one even figured it out. Looking back, my “statement” revealed more about my lack of grace for my friends (regardless of the actual moral quality of the movie) than it did about their integrity.
Statements aren’t just about moral convictions though. They’re highly manipulative and can even be downright mean. Not attending a function because “that person” will be there. Not engaging in a church setting because the pastor said something questionable (lest we “endorse” a human being who may have made a mistake).
What we are ultimately revealing is that we expect others to feel the same way we do but even deeper than that, we want to test that if something were really important, would people support me instead of “that.” The insecurity is palpable when we try and make “statements” or force people to choose.
People who know who they are aren’t afraid to stand alone for what they believe.
People who know who they are extend grace because they’re aware of how much they’ve been extended in their own journey.
People who know who they are maintain inner peace regardless of external turmoil.