Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Critical Condition

I have a very dear friend, in a far away place, it's someone you don't know but I love her dearly. She would do anything for me and together we have had much fun. She and I have laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed. We have rejoiced at victories and wept over tragedies. She is a good person and I try to be a good person. However, we are not good for each other. When we are together, it is just a matter of moments before we start criticizing everything and everyone around us. We whisper to each other about the bad breath of the salesclerk. We laugh at the mistakes of others. We give each other that sly, "See, I told you," smile when another friend misuses a word. We find typos in the restaurant menus. We talk about strangers and mock their choice of clothes. We rate people on a scale of one to ten. We discuss too much salt in the food or too little taste and how there is either too much or not enough fizz in our cokes. We talk about the exorbitant price of everything and the brazen behavior of everyone. We are sarcastic, condescending and disrespectful. And at the time, it seems like fun.
The problem is when I go back home and lie in my bed, sleep does not come. Although totally exhausted from all the "fun", my conscience nags me, prods me, pokes at my heart and keeps me from a restful sleep. I try to talk my conscience into believing it was really all in fun and there was truly no harm done. My conscience doesn't buy it. I try to force myself to talk louder than my conscience, to talk it down, not listen, force myself to ignore it. But my conscience is very tenacious---it does not give up. I toss and turn and toss some more. Finally, I realize that I have a critical condtion!
I don't believe I am the only one with this problem. I also don't believe I am the only one who wants to get control of this bad habit. You may not personally struggle with this but I bet you know someone who does. Those of us with a critical condition, well we are the ones who don't really get involved in activities, but we know we could do it better than the ones who do. We are the Monday morning quarterbacks, although the sermon was pretty good, we wouldn't have said that way and we definitely wouldn't have used that illustration. The singing sounded lovely but it would have been so much more uplifting and encouraging if we'd had a better mix of songs. When we sing all those old songs, most of our young people don't sing. And when we sing only the new songs, well, then it sounds like a youth rally or something--what with all that clapping and stuff. And the children at church---we are all glad to have so many young families but it is really difficult to worship when the children are so unruly. What they need is . . . And honestly can't we march in the Lord's army just a little bit quieter? The guy who led the prayer for the communion bread did a pretty good job, too bad he didn't look in the mirror before he came to church. Does he really think short, wide, gawdy ties are back in style? It was very distracting. We put forth very little effort but we know if we did, we could do it better and faster.
Oh, the thoughts that go through the mind of a critical christian. While it is bad enough the thoughts are there, usually it is not long before they become words, a part of conversation with others. Many of us remember the old joke about "having the preacher for dinner" ---not meaning an invitation to fellowship. I am not sure we recognize just how sinful and detrimental criticism can be. They say it takes something like fifteen positives to make up for every one negative. I don't think that is enough. I think the impact of fifteen good comments about the church and the worship is quickly negated by one harsh criticism. No one wants to step up and be involved when they know they will be critiqued. No one wants to be vulnerable and transparent when they know their efforts will be coffee club fodder in the morning. We cannot expect our churches to grow when we have so many with critical conditions. This condition is very contagious and without the proper treatment, it is fatal. It is indeed disrespectful, hurtful and irreverant.

Father in Heaven, please help us to love one another, to bear with one another and to forgive one another. Teach us to guard our tongues. Put a stopgate on our mouths when we are on the verge of unwholesome talk. Help us to cleanse our minds of arrogance and pride. Teach us humility. We know you desire a loving healthy growing body. Help us want the same. In your Son's holy name.

" . . . by this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."
John 13:35


Blogger Mommysmart said...

Oh Neva, do I know someone like this. If there were a mirror on my monitor I would be looking at her face. I just prayed your prayer and thank you for writing this post today.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in a such a critical society. Look at our favorite tv shows--American Idol, Survivor, etc--encouraging others to judge, criticize and castaway participants. Life is not a talent contest and we are not the judges. You are so right. It is a very hard habit to break and I think we are all so guilty of this.
Thank you my friend

11:08 AM  
Blogger Monalea said...

Neva, thanks for the wakeup call. I did't even realize I had been in critical condition.
Love you,

11:15 AM  
Anonymous lisa leichner said...

Oh, do I ever have this trouble too!! I used to get upset with a close friend of mine when they would criticize others, and they in turn got upset with me, saying, "if I can't tell YOU how I feel about stuff, who can I talk to? It doesn't hurt others for you & I to talk about it." After a while, I felt guilty that they felt they couldn't confide in me and started to allow them. I hate that I look at people & things so critically now!! It DOES hurt us to be critical of others! I feel like I don't have pure thoughts anymore. :(

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This pertains to each of us--there are not many uncritical ones. We should strive tobe that way.

Good post

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch---Neva, get off my toes!
Why is criticizing so easy? It is so hard on our faith and our reputation?

This is a good post, Neva


1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been with a group of friends and seen how easy it is to get caught up in this nasty habit. I have also seen the damage it does to a church and a person. Shame on us for not controlling our tongues and attitudes.


2:22 PM  
Blogger Don Neyland said...

"Old" friends get older but our relationship with them doesn't mature.
That's what happens to me. We go back emotionally & psychologically to a less mature(spiritually) time when our friendships were more constant.

Not an excuse just an observation.

Look at it this way- It's a way to measure our spiritual growth. :)


2:38 PM  
Blogger Steve Puckett said...

If we could practice your thoughts, we could bless the world beyond imagination.


2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there seems to be a connection with consumerism, customer service, etc. that we bring into the church.

we often don't worship, because we are too busy rating and evaluating everyone and everything.

Don is right, sometimes when you see old friends from college, etc. you revert back to how you acted together back then, instead of how much you have grown. wierd...

great thoughts.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of negative behavior is really indicative of a puffed up and proud attitude-much more serious than just a running off of the mouth. God speaks often about the proud and haughty and about thinking of ourselves more highly than we should.
And yes it is a sign of immaturity but nothing to be proud of no matter who we are with.
Interested Bystander

3:26 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

I wish I could not relate to the critical ones or to the ones that they are being critical about. I have been slapped in the face lately for some of my assumptions that I have made about the people where I live. It only takes a minute to talk to someone to find out the truth in their life and to understand why they do things they do.
I am fortunate to have a friend that I have matured with.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read an article on the power fo words---really made me stop and think about my conversations--thank you for the call to repentance for all of us


4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so guilty of this. I have tried to break this nasty nasty habit many times. I am good for awhile but then I get caught up like Don said with old friends and immature behavior. Shame on me.
Thanks for this reminder.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont always comment, but I always read your posts. I am glad you are continueing to lift us up and encourage our spiritual growth


5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A heart that loves others--without criticism, without judgeing, without condeming. That will be what makes the church grow. Good thoughts today


7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Lisa and Mommysmart, I also recognize this person. I am so ashamed. My husband and I make a practice of trashing everyone on the way home from church each time. It is terrible, I cannot imagine what an effect it is having on my children. No wonder they dont want to go to chruch. I stand convicted by your words. Neva,thank you for this.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, amen, amen


7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Refusing to criticize is not easy but it is alwaya appropriate.
I like your thoughts here


7:18 AM  

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