Ending verbal combat

Talk was heard. Tongues rushed words to occupy the space between us. First, I'd take the role of offense, trying to make a case for myself: "I've done this, and did you know that I...?" Then, the role of defense, mustering strength to respond intelligently: "Of course, I knew that." Sometimes there'd be collision: "Oh, excuse me. I didn't mean to interrupt you; what were you saying?" The pace quickened, and thoughts raced directionless, scrambling to find words to fill any void in the conversation.

Stop! Think a minute. Does your conversation ever simulate a courtroom battle? As plaintiff, are you quick to establish your case against another, insuring yourself against any vulnerability? Or, as defendant, are you too eager to justify and protect yourself for fear of being thought helpless or ignorant? And what about those gaps in conversation: Does discomfort set in? Do you view silence as an unredemptive period?

For many years, I found myself all too often engaged in offense-defense communication. The "self" family—self-importance, self-pride, self-love—occupied my thought and obscured heartfelt feelings of love and respect. I saw conversation as an activity in matching wits, which often left me agitated and upset. Christian Science showed me how I could change the direction, tone, and pace of my conversations so I could bless my listener and retain my peace.

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Family likeness
October 13, 1980

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