If you google sarcasm and see the results you’ll find a lot of negative options on sarcasm. As a recovering sarcasm addict, I can tell you no amount of ridicule would ever cause me to stop being sarcastic. One post says, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor.” Right, like the typical curse-filled raunch fest that we see played out on movies with the label of comedy was penned by Stephen Hawking.
Let’s talk a little about Sarcasm. The root word tells you a lot. In Greek, “Sarcasmos” (which sounds like an awesome villain name) means, “to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer,” In fact, the dictionaries get it right. Sarcasm is indeed “a biting or cutting remark” and “a comment designed to show scorn.” How did something that seems so vile end up as a way of communication?
Step 1: Identify The Problem
I can’t speak for you but I know my story. I won’t bore you with my childhood or my formative teenage years, you probably wouldn’t care anyway. Just know that by the time I had married my sweetheart I had mastered the fine art of sarcasm. Even pleasant conversation left people thinking to themselves “thank God all that angst is directed at someone other than me.” It wasn’t until a marriage class at our church that I even realized I was destroying people with my words and worse (at least from my perspective) I was hurting the person I loved most, my wife.
Up until that point, I thought that the level of sarcastic skill somehow validated me as a person. It was as if the committee for the sarcasm awards were one day going to recognize my brilliance. Everything I said had multiple meanings and reflected something going on in my heart.
That was my “ah-ha!” moment. I was hearting other people that I loved and what was coming out reflected my heart. I know I’ve heard that somewhere…
As a trained engineer, I know that in order to solve a problem you have to identify it. Up until this point I had no idea I had a problem. In fact, I just assumed that other people were weak when they recoiled. Now I knew something was up. I’m hurting others, it’s coming from my heart… what’s in there. I’m reminded of a song by NF called Mansion where he says,
“So this part of my house, no one’s been in it for years
I built the safe room and I don’t let no one in there
‘Cause if I do, there’s a chance that they might disappear and not come back
And I admit I am emotionally scared to let anyone inside
So I just leave my doors locked
You might get other doors to open up but this door’s not
‘Cause I don’t want you to have the opportunity to hurt me
And I’ll be the only person that I can blame when you desert me
I’m barricaded inside so stop watching
I’m not coming to the door so stop knocking, stop knocking
I’m trapped here, God keeps saying I’m not locked in
I chose this, I am lost in my own conscience
I know that shutting the wall down ain’t solving the problem
But I didn’t build this house because I thought it would solve ’em
I built it because I thought that it was safer in there
But it’s not, I’m not the only thing that’s living in here
Fear came to my house years ago, I let him in
Maybe that’s the problem ’cause I’ve been dealing with this ever since
I thought that he would leave, but it’s obvious he never did
He must have picked the room and got comfortable and settled in
Now I’m in the position it’s either sit here and let him win
Or put him back outside where he came from, but I never can
‘Cause in order to do that I’d have to open the doors
Is that me or the fear talking?
I don’t know anymore”
Step 2: Ask The Holy Spirit To Help You
You thought for a second you might get a light and fluffy little blog post here. Sorry, not sorry. In this marriage class I discovered that not only had I been hurting people but that wounds were all over my victims. You know what happens to a cut? It gets a scab. In my home I was living with a scab covered wife. In leadership language I had created a culture of sarcasm and distrust. I was abusive. Coming to this realization I had to ask for help. I’ve found that when I need to change my behavior that really the only person that can help me is God. In this case, I prayed asking the Holy Spirit to help me see the words before they come out and to catch them.
The change wasn’t dramatic. I didn’t get a new name or new outfit. However, slowly over the next few weeks the words that came out were duller. I wasn’t cutting my spouse or friends anymore. I could see what I wanted to say and change it. It’s hard to describe because I don’t believe in being fake. Changing my words didn’t mean I was disingenuous, it meant that what I had to say lacked the biting tone that would hurt. In some ways, changing your tone is an act of servant leadership. Now you’re communicating the way that a person needs to receive it versus what you want to say.
Even though I noticed the change relatively quick, I noticed a few other things too…
Step 3: Realize that you may change faster than those close to you will see it.
I praise God that I didn’t harm my family or friends to the point I lost them. God blessed me with a forgiving spouse and over time she saw the change. It was probably months but she noticed. During this time I was hurting quite a bit. The tables had turned. I had trained everyone that when I come into a room I’m coming with swords for a sword fight. Every room I entered after my prayer was like walking into a sword fight without any weapons.
At the time I asked a mentor about what to do. George told me that if Jesus, holding the power of the universe, can be beaten to show love, who am I to want to fight back. My advice is the same to you. Jesus was beaten, spit on, and ridiculed. If you’ve been using sarcasm or have been verbally abusive with others, then get ready to receive a healthy helping back. Some people may never notice, but God does.
Step 4: Deal With The Anger
When I was sarcastic I thought I was in charge, I thought I was protecting myself with a prickly hedge. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was incredibly exposed. When you have enough empathy to see hurting people you realize that sarcasm is a defense mechansim from some sort of pain. Like a saying from one of those motivational seminars, I had to deal with my past so I could step into my future. The only person that can heal what was done to me and by me in the past is God. If you want to stop being sarcastic or any other behavior you’re going to need His help to stop it but even more difficult, you’re going to have to let Him heal you.
Healing from a deep wound that has healed incorrectly requires the surgeon to open the wound back up. This is what makes it so painful. However, you have to trust your Heavenly Father and let Him do it. You’ll be better for it and your family will be as well.
How To Stop Sarcasm And Other Verbal Assault Tactics
TL,DR – You’re hurting people becuase you’re hurting. You have to ask God to help you heal and to help you change. You have to take the first step. It’s probably the most courageous thing you can do .
Is Sarcasm A Sin? – I think in the right context it can still be funny. However, if it’s ever directed at a person, then yes! I’d say it is. If you liked this post and want me to dive into that topic, let me know! Comment below! If this was helpful or perhaps you think I’m misssing something, let me know!