Thursday, 5 December 2013

Yeah, God Really Speaks To Me

... but not always when I want Him too. And not always with the kind of message I want to hear.

Last week I was asked to give a talk about using our words to glorify God. I had to cover stuff I had heard before... how criticizing people, speaking negatively, talking about people's problems or issues, complaining, or gossiping could really hurt and even destroy relationships.

Anyone who knows me well knows that ME speaking about this proves God has a sense of humour. If there is a vast expanse of white sheet and a black spot on it, I need to exhaustively talk about the black spot, analyze its reasons for being there and point it out to anyone who's willing to listen (and anyone who isn't). If I have a little paper cut, I feel like it's worth sharing with everyone who asks me how I am. It takes a lot for me to wholeheartedly praise a person. Sometimes I want to physically leave a talk or a show (or a homily, but I resist the temptation) because I feel like it's so badly done.

I have justified having a critical mind. But as I studied the outline of the talk I was going to give, I was convicted again. It's so easy to say I'm being 'realistic' when I'm just being negative. It's easy to make up reasons why it's not a big deal for me to 'analyze' someone... out loud, to the people who have to live with me. It's actually a lot harder just to keep my mouth shut when an uncharitable thought pops into my head. Especially when I feel like I'm justified.

Anyway giving the talk reminded me that negativity, pessimism and judging have no place in the life of a Christian. And realism is not equal to negativity. Because perspective actually does matter.

In case I didn't get the message, God re-sent it. I came home, opened my Facebook and saw this:

(Not sure what the protocol on screenshots of other people's statuses is, but I blacked out names just in case. Excpet for Joseph Prever. Because he has a public blog, and can be followed on FB by strangers.)

Joseph Prever (this feels weird, I still think of him as Steve Gershom) doesn't usually write posts like this. But this was a down to earth, very practical post with some very insightful reasons not to gossip-

  • When you say bad things about somebody, especially somebody that I don’t know very well, it makes it more likely that I will grow to hate them a little more. You are teaching me how to hate that person. 
  • When you say good things about somebody, especially somebody that I don’t know very well, it makes it more likely that I will grow to love them. You are teaching me how to love that person better. 
  • I am good at discovering the evil in other people. I don’t need your help. If it’s true that they’re bad, I’ll probably find out for myself. 
  • I’m not nearly as good at discovering the good in other people. I need your help to do that. If it’s true that they’re good, I might never notice it unless you show me.

(Read the rest here.)

I have probably influenced so many people through my life... and often negatively. And quite often the negative aspects of people's personalities that I feel I MUST comment on, most likely have a good side. Someone who I call 'bossy' could also be called 'willing to take the lead and get things done'. A 'mousy' person may just be 'quieter and better at listening'. A 'people-pleaser' may be 'sensitive to people's feelings'.

I'm not saying that my negative conclusions don't have an element of truth in them. But words have power- that means if I voice a negative judgement about a person, I am more likely to start seeing them differently, treating them differently, and waiting for them to prove that they are as bad as I thought them to be. And so do the people who heard my assessment. And if criticized people hear or feel my judgement, they are more likely to see themselves like that, and behave like that. How often have you noticed yourself behaving the way you think people see you?

So. Advent resolution. 'If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all.' And if you CAN say something good, SAY IT!


  1. I just love your sense of humor in the cartoon . . . and I also have trouble correcting "Steve Gershom" to his real name. :o) You have some good thoughts here, that we can never hear enough in the age of Twitter and FB commentary.

  2. Excellent post! And convicting....

  3. This subject is interesting and one of my favorites! Yes God speak to me to in subtle ways and leads me to where He wants me to go... I experienced His grace first hand... i was having trouble at my work for like two years (not that it has subsided by any chance, but yes the situation has improved!) and i couldn't do anything, except getting frustrated...i was not a Christian then... and i would speak of the black dot on the white sheet for ever and ever ... the black dot happened to be my super boss then... i was frustrated and anyone who lent me ear heard for hours together as to what was right and what was wrong about my boss.. i felt something was not right when i read about gossip and its impact on me and how it deviates from Christian living... i took it as a instruction and didn't say a bad word about my boss.. guess what it felt better and i grew internally (or my soul was probably at peace/healed)... i just scuttle off from such discussions now and i pray whenever i feel the download my frustration and needless to say.... pooofff! and miracle happens! Situations turn back to normal and at times even better for both of us...