“See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” –1 Thessalonians 5:15
One of the hardest things in life is criticism. Whether it’s constructive or meant to tear you down, comments about the way we do things can seem personal and hostile. I am not good with criticism. Even if I ask for it, I still cringe at the thought of someone calculating my every move. It’s a part of human nature. We take these helpful hints as a shot to our pride, and we react. Feelings are inescapable. Emotions are in essence the human condition. But emotions are also internal, and most of the time we can choose to show them. Being sensitive to constructive criticism is one thing. Some people can take it like a champ, make the changes, and become better because of it. Not me. I’ll be torn up for days about it, I’ll contort my face and wring my writs with nervousness. These outward actions as a result of my inward emotions are frustrating and self-deprecating. But they’re also a me thing. It’s a personal struggle and the only person who has to deal with it is me, and I recognize that.
Reacting to a negative comment is an entirely different thing. This isn’t something my mind has made up to confuse me. This is actual judgment coming my way with malicious intent. It’s hateful. It’s destructive. I may not have done something to cause it, or maybe I did. Either way, this kind of adversity isn’t meant to lift me up, it’s meant to bring me down. Dealing with this isn’t easy. It isn’t irrational to want to respond. And it’s not inherently wrong to respond. When something like this happens to me I want nothing more than to do just that. To put them in their place, to prove them wrong (especially if what they’re saying is inaccurate or slanderous.) It’s one thing to hold a friend accountable. Accountability is tricky because we’re called to do it. James 5:16 says to encourage your brothers and sisters to grow in Christ, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Jesus “called out” (for lack of a better word) his brothers and sisters. He encouraged them to do better, to fulfill their whole purpose not only for their sake but for the betterment of the Kingdom of God.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We aren’t meant to do life alone, but confronting someone for nothing more than social power and your own satisfaction does nothing. There’s no way to stop this from happening. We have no control over others actions, no matter how hard we try. Individuals will act out on their own will for no reason at all sometimes. The only thing we can control is ourselves and our reaction to this betrayal.
The way we react to things shows our true character. It shows our true colors in the rawest way. Retaliation is something I struggle with, and I probably will for a very long time. It’s not a one-step fix; it’s a process. Like anything in life, in order to change, we must give ourselves space to grow. It’s so frustrating at times, but I’ve found the key to happiness is ignore, ignore ignore. Meaningless hate is just that-meaningless.
Life is too short to acknowledge petty things, much less react to them. If a subtle confrontation has turned into something where it has become impossible to overlook, it’s time to speak up. This interaction is such a sensitive balance, so it is crucial to be gentle with your response. Giving them the satisfaction of a melt-down lets them win. At this point, I want to explode. I want them to feel the humiliation and agitation they made me feel. But what good does that do? They get exactly what they want and I am left even more embarrassed that I showed that I let it get to me. “The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.” ― Criss Jami,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”…-Phillipaims 2:12
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”- 2 Corinthians 12:8-9