In Others’ Words: Bricks

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~David Brinkley (1920 – 2003), American newscaster

If somebody throws a brick at me, I’m gonna duck.

If somebody throws a verbal brick at me — an insult, an accusation — sometimes I make the mistake of embracing it like it’s the gospel truth. (Pardon the cliche.)

When I read today’s quote, I chuckled and thought, “Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.”

Let’s face it: People are going to give me both compliments and insults. It’s a fact of life. The question is: What am I going to do with them?

The older I get (nope, I’m not inserting my age here), the more determined I am to not let others’ opinions of me — good or bad — rock my world. I had the fun opportunity to explore this idea over at Rachelle Gardner’s blog in a post titled Unhitch Your Wagon from the Stars. Here’s the summary of that blog post: I can’t make life all about me, and whether people like me or don’t like me. I can’t spend time waiting for the next brick tossed my way.

But, the more I mull over today’s quote, the more I realize even insults can have worth in my life. I can examine them and see if there’s any truth in what is said — and if there is need to change. If the insult is laced with venom … well, I have an opportunity to love my enemy — maybe even to pray for them. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In Your Words: Has an insult — a verbal brick — ever become a part of the firm foundation of your life?

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33 Comments

  1. April 18, 2012, 12:12 am   /  Reply

    Great food for thought, Beth. And that quote speaks volumes of truth. Verbal bricks hurt longer than physical bricks, but the lessons learned last longer, as well. I think you and I were on the same brick wavelength today in our posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. April 18, 2012, 6:51 am   /  Reply

    Great wisdom here again. I find people can say almost anything to me depending on their tone of voice. And if their tone is venomous, the problem may be theirs, or I may have disregarded earlier more softly made comments.

    • Jeanne T
      April 18, 2012, 7:30 am   /  Reply

      Those are good thoughts, Dee. I hadn’t thought about the possibility that I may have missed more softly spoken comments before a venomous one.

      • Beth Vogt
        April 18, 2012, 8:03 am   /  Reply

        Jeanne,
        That’s what I love about the conversation here: so many excellent insights!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:01 am   /  Reply

      What a gracious response, Dee.

  3. April 18, 2012, 7:12 am   /  Reply

    When someone says something negative to me, I’ve trained myself to think they said this because they care. Even if they don’t really. ;>) and over the years I’ve developed a really thick skin. If someone wants to insult me, they almost have to tell me it’s an insult. Otherwise, I take what they say as constructive criticism. Then I can look at the comment objectively and decide if it’s worth keeping.
    Great post, Beth.

    • Jeanne T
      April 18, 2012, 7:30 am   /  Reply

      Can I take lessons from you on this, Pat? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:02 am   /  Reply

      Oh, Pat, I want to be like you when I grow up. What a wonderful attitude.

      • April 18, 2012, 8:47 am   /  Reply

        Took years of practice…and I had a lot of opportunities. lol

  4. April 18, 2012, 7:13 am   /  Reply

    I love this quote! Junior high was the worst time ever for me. Kids were really, really mean. But I knew what they said wasn’t the truth. So I kept going. And when I would see kids who were hurting, I’d try to embrace them instead of mocking them like I’d been mocked. I think emphathy is one of the best foundations that can be laid from the bricks of insults from others.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:02 am   /  Reply

      Brilliant insight, Lindsay. Brilliant. Empathy is a wonderful foundation.

  5. April 18, 2012, 7:26 am   /  Reply

    My boss is fond of saying, “Hurting people hurt people.” I think that’s one of the best ways we can look at insults – realizing they’re probably hurled by hurting people. I like how you pointed out we can then love and pray for the people who hurt us.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:03 am   /  Reply

      I like your boss, Melissa. He sounds like a wise man.

  6. Jeanne T
    April 18, 2012, 7:32 am   /  Reply

    In work settings, mean things were said to/about me. It really hurt the people-pleaser inside me. I learned to let those things go and to stop placing a lot of value in what I thought others thought about me. Still struggle with this sometimes, but I’m much better than I was.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:04 am   /  Reply

      Jeanne: I think you hit something here: It’s the “value” we place on what others’ say & what others’ think about us. If we can avoid that, we avoid getting all wrapped around the axle.

  7. April 18, 2012, 7:36 am   /  Reply

    A woman told me the other day that she stopped coming to my Bible study because she gets nothing out of it. At first I was shocked that she said that to my face, but I HAD pressed her to tell me why she wasn’t coming. She couldn’t identify what is lacking. I prayed about it, asking God to show me any kernel of truth, but all I could think of was that this particular study is not as in-depth as my previous ones. Even though I considered the source, I still felt like a bit of a failure. Now I believe God wants me to persevere, leaving the results to Him. How’s that for a great example? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:06 am   /  Reply

      Diane,
      I think you are teachable and humble to share that example.
      I admire how you took that “brick” and prayed over it and were willing to ask God what to do with it. I know God will bless your attitude and your efforts.

  8. April 18, 2012, 7:49 am   /  Reply

    Very true! On Monday I posted about living an authentic life, and the post was born from a statement someone in my husband’s family said to me. The gist of it was that I am such a “wholesome” person, people who make poor choices don’t feel at liberty to share them with me for fear I will judge them, but, she assured me, she had never actually felt judged by me. It felt like a slap to my face. I strive to be loving and kind (I don’t always hit the mark), so this came at me from out of nowhere. I had to examine her statement, look for the truth (there always seems to be a grain of it in most comments) and ask myself how others may preceive me. I determined that I want to live an authentic life, reflecting Christ. I can’t control what people think about me and, if being wholesome is bad (to them), then so be it. The convictions they feel in their heart aren’t from me, they are from the Holy Spirit. I won’t compromise my beliefs or values to make other people feel comfortable.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:08 am   /  Reply

      Gabrielle,
      Wow, not sure “wholesome” is a “brick,” but I guess that person thought so.
      ๐Ÿ™‚
      But your response was right … you took the time to examine the statement and consider your response.

  9. April 18, 2012, 8:06 am   /  Reply

    Since I used to work in newspapers, I am pretty good at absorbing verbal comments directed to me. I learned most times – it wasn’t about me personally (sometimes yes, but not all the time). Recently, a guy backed into the side of my car. He yelled at me for taking his parking spot. I never want to be that guy. Thankfully, there was no damage to my car or my family, so I could walk away without having to be connected to this guy other than a memory/lesson.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:09 am   /  Reply

      Stacy,
      Wonder what was going on in that guy’s life before he backed into your car,eh?
      ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. April 18, 2012, 8:19 am   /  Reply

    I don’t know if I’ve ever laid foundation with some of the verbal bricks slung at me, but I do know I’ve studied each one of them and seriously considered building with them. Such a wonderful quote and post today.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 8:28 am   /  Reply

      Jessica,
      Well, at least you haven’t thrown a verbal brick back — which is what I’ve done on occasion.
      Hate to admit it, but I have.

  11. Loree Huebner
    April 18, 2012, 10:28 am   /  Reply

    I may have a few verbal bricks tucked in there.

    Loved that quote!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 6:10 pm   /  Reply

      ๐Ÿ™‚
      Me too, Loree. Me too.

  12. April 18, 2012, 11:30 am   /  Reply

    Such wisdom in that quote. And yes, I’ve often taken some words to heart–I think that’s how we create those lies about ourselves–you know the ones we try to develop in our characters. By feeding those lies, we are distancing ourselves from God’s truth.

    Unfortunately I’ve said things to others that have been hurtful. I wish I could take them back, but it’s like toothpaste–once it’s out, it’s hard to put back. So I just learn my lesson and resolve to be more graceful and loving the next time.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 6:11 pm   /  Reply

      Lisa,
      How wise to turn this quote backward and think, “Have I hurled a verbal brick?”
      Very convicting.

  13. April 18, 2012, 1:21 pm   /  Reply

    I can’t think of insults and insulting people without thinking of the taunting Frenchmen scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V7zbWNznbs
    Stop watching around 3:30 if you’re easily offended!
    As Arthur and his questing knights discovered, the best thing to do when someone is hurling insults or livestock at you is to retreat with the members of your round table. Surround yourself with sympathetic people who believe in your goal and ignore rude little people who hide behind walls and lob cows at you!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 6:12 pm   /  Reply

      This is why I love hanging with you, Evangeline. Your perspective broadens mine.

  14. April 18, 2012, 4:54 pm   /  Reply

    So true, Beth. I tend to let words really affect me, and not always in a good way. I love the idea of turning them around so they propel me to be something better.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 18, 2012, 6:12 pm   /  Reply

      Sarah,
      This quote really has me thinking today.
      And I love the conversation that we’ve had today.

  15. April 20, 2012, 6:34 am   /  Reply

    Ohhhh yes! I still remember a very hurtful insult from 2 years ago by a trusted friend. (I guess I also have issues with forgiving and forgetting!) But sometimes insults do propel me to take an introspective look at myself and challenge myself to say “No, that’s not really me” or “OK, that’s not the person I want to be, so I gotta work on it!” It hurts, but hopefully in the end God uses it to mold me to the person HE wants me to be … that’s all that matters.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 20, 2012, 11:00 pm   /  Reply

      Great insights, Christi. And I don’t think the fact that you remember the insult means you haven’t forgiven. Words that hurt often linger … and we have to take that incident back to the foot of the Cross again and again and ask God to pour his lavish grace over it.

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