I struggle. One of the things I struggle with most is listening to negativity and offering negativity about other people. Most negative statements are not designed to tear down a person in one shot. Negative statements are frequently designed to put question marks in the head of those who are listening. If enough question marks are communicated then the character of the person being talked about is damaged. This happens all the time. Just think of a person you have “questions” about and try to spend time with them face to face. It is difficult to completely trust that person. It is difficult to truly help that person. I’m sad to say that I have participated in this form of negative questioning.
I have justified communicating negativity about others by acting like I have their best interests in mind. I say to myself, “I will listen actively and provide a solution to the problem.” Something that I’ve been reminded of recently is that the solution has already been provided. That solution is grace.
I do not need to listen or provide negativity. Instead I can politely choose not to listen and I can show grace by keeping my mouth shut. I am well aware that people talk about my failures, blind spots, and quirks. I would appreciate it if they told me first before sharing it with the rest of the world. I’m sure most people would appreciate that courtesy. It hit me this week that I don’t want to get halfway through my life, look back, and see all the people that I have trash-faced (behind their backs). Here is my game plan for victory:
- Acknowledge my faults and ruthlessly seek out my blind spots.
- Laugh about my quirks and suppress them around those who are annoyed by them.
- Find the source of my negative feelings and stop making excuses for my lack of grace.
- Kindly let people know how their attitudes and actions effect my relationship with God and others.
- Recognize that I will sometimes fail in my goal of grace and keep trying in spite of my failures.
- Refuse to listen to negativity about others if that person is not present.
- Take a chill pill. Life is too short for me to fix perceived problems in others. I have enough problems of my own.
All this stuff I have known how to do for quite awhile. I’ve often faulted people for showing a lack of grace to others. Yet the thing I despise most in them has trapped me as well. From now on I will look in the mirror when I find something in others that I dislike. Sometimes that stray nose hair or zit is on my face too.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~Ephesians 4:32