Humility, Relationship, Series, When There Are Words

Words: After We Make Poor Choices


+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part three of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.


It all began with a phone call.

As soon as the school’s number showed on my Caller ID, I knew my day was about to change. I just had no idea how drastically.

When the words, “Kicked in the head a couple times.” “Dizzy” and “Blurry vision” came into the conversation, my mama’s heart began to worry for this son of mine.

After hearing the details and asking some questions, I decided that, yes, the boy needed to come home to rest and be watched.


When I neared the school, I made a couple of decisions that . . . weren’t the wisest. And I quickly gained the eye of a police officer. I had misread a situation.

And she misread me.

I wanted to be angry. Only I knew she had a difficult job.

I wanted to defend myself, only I knew that nothing could change the choices I’d made.

And though I knew my choices were for the sake of my boy, she saw a different picture. Because she had information I wasn’t privy to.

She made judgments, and I clamped my mouth shut. Because every now and then, silence truly is the best answer.

Sometimes a humble apology is the better way.

After she explained what I’d done wrong and what she thought she saw in my actions, I said I was sorry. And I was.

There are times when we get things wrong. We make decisions that seem right, but for some reason, they aren’t. We make choices because they are for another person’s good. But the way we go about fulfilling them violates something.


When we’ve messed up and the stakes are high, we need to be quiet. Sometimes, there are no words that can make things right. And there are especially no words that can make our choice—as noble as it may be—look shiny and good.

We need to acknowledge this.

Sometimes humility is a difficult choice because our emotions get wrapped up in the circumstances.

One thing I learned through this experience is that I mustn’t allow my emotions to dictate a situation.

I know this when I’m dealing with an officer of the law. And I (for the most part) have the self-control to keep my mouth shut.

But what about with those who are close to me? Those who don’t have the authority to issue a ticket for words spoken?


There will be times when I blow it with my husband, my kids, my friends. I’m going to make decisions that, in the moment, seem right, justifiable. But the big picture ramifications are broader than I can see.

When someone nicely—or not—points this out to me, what will my reaction be?

Am I going to defend myself? Try to make them understand why I chose the way I did?

Or, am I going to receive the rebuke, the correction?

Honestly? I’m not good at receiving correction in the moment. I need time to process it, ponder it, pray over it.

And sometimes, even then, I may not agree with it. The way I respond to a person can make or ruin a relationship.


With my family and friends, I want to choose love. It’s okay to disagree with another. How we do it will determine a number of things.

How safe we are to those people.

Our response tells the other person a lot. And they will make decisions about future interactions with us based on how we receive and respond to rebuke.

When we are teachable—humble—relationships are strengthened because the other person sees depth in us.

When we defend ourselves, we tell that person we’re placing ourselves—our importance—above them.


Choosing humility is hard. But, this is also a response that is pleasing in our Father’s sight.

Do we want to be right . . . or right with God?

What about you? When have you chosen humility in a situation? How do you handle valid rebukes?

Click to Tweet: When we’re humble, relationships are strengthened

13 thoughts on “Words: After We Make Poor Choices”

    1. Dear Andrew, I always look forward to your input in this blog. You can hit the nail squarely on the head with words. Your profound sentence this morning will leave a lasting impression in my “words spoken” filter. Thank You. I pray for you.


    2. Andrew, I’ve been praying. And your thought is so good. I’ve found myself thinking that bout words I’ve said . . . If these are the last words this person hears from me, what message will that person be left with? It’s helped me frame my words to others—especially my immediate family—more carefully.


  1. Jeanne, sometimes I think there is lasting power in humility. Humbleness deescalates a situation and makes us appear to be less of a threat. Quick angry responses offer only momentary victories, but the incident continues to play-out in our minds as we find ourselves regretting what we said or didn’t say. Humbleness gives the opponent less to attack and plugs that leaking dam, releasing us of the angst that can linger on. That doesn’t make us door mats, it allows us time to deal more accurately with the issue. When we go off like a shot gun blast, the spray pattern of the pellets tend to hit much more then just the intended target. That can later leave us dealing with a lot of unintended damage control and clouds the original issue.


    1. Gene, your thoughts are spot-on. Our words, once said, may very well haunt us. I’m an over-analyzer. I think through and re-think through what I’ve said and if it was the right thing. This isn’t often healthy (at least not for me). But if we are careful with our words in the first place, we have no regrets later. If we are intentional in choosing a humble response, especially in a possibly volatile situation, feelings and intensity can de-escalate. Being intentional with what we do—and don’t—say is key.

      Your image of the shotgun blast makes such sense. We rarely see what kind of collateral damage our words will affect until after they’re out of our mouths. Thank you for sharing your insights here!

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  2. You could have been writing about me in this post today. Ugh! My momma bear instincts have come out rather strong recently and even though my sons are grown you truly don’t mess with my people. When I began to read your words, that is what nI sensed you doing.

    Thank you for bringing us back to humility throughout the post. I know that lesson and have experienced it more than once but for some reason I can use words when silence is the better choice. Great insight!


    1. Mary, I know. You don’t mess with my people either. God has been speaking to me a lot about humility lately. I think He has (gulp) more lessons for me to learn about this character trait. May we both be intentional about when we do, and don’t, use words. So glad you stopped by.


  3. I once heard…do you want to be right or happy? 🙂 I’ve always loved Stephen Covey’s concept of seek to understand and then be understood. I know I’ve been accused of not getting angry enough, or for not speaking up for myself, so have admired others that can get upset and angry, instead of stewing in confusion and self-doubt within like I can. I think it is a constant learning of how to deal with conflict. But you make such a great point that by making humility the goal, we are moving in the choice of love!


    1. That concept of seeking to understand first is so good, Lynn. I’ve been like you in that, at times, I don’t speak up or get upset. Rather, I retreat. It seems to me there’s a balance between feeling angry but not venting it on others. I tend to be one who doesn’t let myself feel in the midst of a tense or crisis situation. I do what needs to be done to get through the moment (which is what I did with the police officer that day). The emotions came later.

      Like you, I am learning not to shy away from conflict, but rather how to deal with it in humility and confidence (with God’s help). Moving in the choice of love . . . I like that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.


  4. So many great thoughts here, Jeanne. Humility is not easy, but so important for maintaining good relationships.
    This is so true of me as well: “I’m not good at receiving correction in the moment. I need time to process it, ponder it, pray over it.” It’s been helpful to recognise that and to know that I should just stay quiet and that I probably will think about the situation differently once I’ve had the chance to process it.


    1. You’re right, Lesley. Humility is key for keeping relationships strong. I’m so thankful for God’s grace as He gives us time to process His corrections. Yes, I need to work on the staying quiet aspect too. Sometimes, when my husband asks me a question, I need to just say, “Let me get back to you on that.” Because I have discovered my initial response isn’t usually productive to the conversation. 🙂

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  5. I know exactly what you mean. Just last night, we were over at a family’s members house. They’d made spaghetti. They’d made a separate batch for their kid who doesn’t like mean in his spaghetti sauce. Trying to empathize, I mentioned that the girls weren’t crazy about meat in their sauce either. Yikes! Their spaghetti sauce for everyone else had meat in it. I just kept quiet about it after that … thanked them … and apologized the next morning. 🙂


    1. Awww, Shelli. Things come from our mouths that we have no idea how they’ll impact others . . . until it’s out there. I’m glad there’s space for apologizing (with most people) and being able to move forward without lasting damage to relationships. Thanks for sharing, friend.


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