This has to be one of my favorite phrases. I don’t have it down 100% of the time, but over and over again when something frustrates me, I remind myself of this.
I’m not gonna lie, when I see people, especially people born in Buffalo who have moved away making fun of our weather on social media, I’d really like to give a sarcastic comeback. Something like: “Thank you captain obvious for pointing out the fact that it is in fact cold out, can I point out to you that while my kids are enjoying their summer break in the beautiful Buffalo summers, yours will be sitting inside in air conditioning bored because if they were to go outside their faces would melt off.” Would I feel better for a moment? Yes. Helpful? No.
On a more serious note, in the type of work I do, I can sometimes see things that are very unjust. This can be by the people we are working to help and empower in Sierra Leone and those from the US side who want to “help”. Things can get ugly as the depravity of our humanity rears its ugly head. And lets just say, especially when someone even thinks about doing something to hurt our program “Momma Kate” will want to come to the defense.
Instead of joining in the negativity I am working towards being a person who criticizes by creating. If we paint a picture for others of how things “ought to be” sometimes that picture speaks louder than a thousand (sarcastic) words.
How can we criticize by creating?
- Ignore the negative and speak/show the positive. Proverbs 9:7 says: “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults.” Really, do you really think your sarcastic response is going to result in something positive? CREATE: go do something fun and find the joy in whatever you were being mocked in. (In our weather example, go outside and enjoy the snow, create memories and share those with others.)
- Recognize it’s probably not about you. Realize that often times, someone’s negativity (even if it seems directed at you) probably has nothing to do with you. When you realize that, you can change your defensiveness and hurt to empathy for them. CREATE: offer them some word of encouragement. (In our weather example, a better response would be: I’m really happy you and your family get to enjoy a beautiful day outside.)
- Choose to diffuse. Frustrating or even unjust situations often become a boiling pot that’s ready to explode. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” CREATE: be the one to take the first step, send a text, write a note, or buy a coffee for that person. It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness can soften the hardest heart.
- Lead by example. When you see a problem, rather than complaining about it, do something about it. CREATE: Be a problem solver. Use your time, talents, gifts, voice to help make the world how it ought to be.