"Look at that driver! Get off the phone!"
"Did you ever see anyone so stupid in your life?"
"I cannot believe the ineptitude of that company."
"I look horrible. Look at all those rolls of flab."
Have you ever said anything like that? I have. In fact, I was able to hone my ability at faultfinding to a fine art.
One day, while listening to someone else's litany of woes, which reminded me of how discouraging and ugly griping sounds, I began to hear myself. And it wasn't pretty.
Why is there so much negative talk and anger? I took a long look at myself and realized I had let a critical, negative attitude dominate my life. I asked God to point out when I said or thought something negative. And instead of just asking Him to change me, I wanted to know why I acted that way.
I pondered the subject for a long time. Why did I think like that? I knew it did not please the Lord or build up those around me or myself. It seemed to be a habit--and a destructive one at that. How did the habit even come about?
As I thought and prayed, it became clear that besides being a bad habit, my negativity had a lot to do with how I viewed the world around me.
- Fact: Our world is imperfect.
- Fact: Each person has a sin nature and is therefore automatically imperfect.
- Fact: That includes me, and it also includes everyone else.
- Fact: My desires didn't coincide with reality.
I grew up expecting everything to be fair and right. Unfortunately, life is not like that. There is a lot of unfairness and sin. Every person makes mistakes. No one is free from blunders, because of the basic imperfection of humankind.
When I grasped that concept, it made sense that most of my frustration and anger with others came from a false belief. I looked for perfection in an imperfect world.
This does not mean one should give carte blanche to ineptitude or sin. I simply need to remember that a lot of wrongs do not merit getting irritated. When I get upset at a bad driver, I need to be aware that I do not always drive my best. When I complain about this company or that doctor being wrong, I need to stop and think it through. Some issues definitely need to be dealt with, but constantly finding fault with everyone and everything is not beneficial to anyone.
I need to pick my battles and not waste my time, energy, or thoughts on being negative. When I judge, condemn, or criticize, I am setting myself up to be the only perfect one. That is a mighty high perch from which I will definitely fall, for I, too, am perfectly imperfect.
By Crystal J. Ortmann