Criticizing, How do we Benefit?

by Sandra Furuvald

The critical spirit often begins with RESENTMENT: We buy into it everyday of our life.  We criticize someone for not picking up after themselves, not doing something the way we think it should have been done, not keeping their commitment, being flaky, etc.
When we criticize we subconsciously enter into resentment.

Our Pastor challenged us to go on a fast for one month. He asked for those of us who wanted to participate to stand up.  However, this fast did not involve food. It was a negativity fast. I stood up, and became excited to see, my husband and daughter join me to commit to the negativity fast.
That month was a real eye opener.
The first thing we all noticed was that their was a different spirit in the house.
Wait a minute Sandra, now you’re beginning to get a bit kooky.
Call it New Age, spiritualism, Holy Spirit, but regardless of whether you believe in the spiritual realm or not, it exists. But that’s another blog for another time.

We all noticed there was a bright, positive, atmosphere that was quite nice. After about a week into it, I asked my daughter what she noticed so far during the fast. Her response?  She didn’t realize just how negative she behaved prior to the fast. By being so focused on being positive, it highlighted how much negativity was on the forefront of her mind.  She not only saw a difference in her response to others, but how they responded to her in a more friendly manner.
When I asked my husband, he was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for him to be positive, and let go of finding fault in others.
As for me, my revelation was that more than mere words defined my negativity.  There were many times when I entertained negative thoughts.  Did that count?  Just because I wasn’t speaking out my negative thoughts, didn’t mean I wasn’t being negative.  I know that may sound obvious to most, but for me it wasn’t so obvious.  So many times we can have negative harmful thoughts about ourselves and others without realizing how poisonous it can be.

Someone once told me, if we focus our thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue, or on something praiseworthy, and we keep on doing what you have learned, then peace will be with us.

Needless to say, the negativity fast has come and gone.  Although, I learned much during that month.  Just as it is in a fast involving food, the old ways crept back in.  Fortunately, I continued focusing on my negative attitude.  Why did I become negative toward someone not picking up after themselves, or rudeness, or even a lack of someone else’s commitment.  Take a moment and really take this in…..it was because of my expectations of them.  Now ponder that for a bit.

I expected someone to pick up after themselves, I also expected people to stick to their commitments, and I really have a difficult time with rudeness.  But what’s wrong with that?  Why not have expectations of people?  Well, it’s not wrong per se, however, if I’m criticizing others for falling short of my expectations, it is not keeping my focus on what is good, noble, lovable, or admirable.

SandraWhen I’m criticizing others out loud or in my heart, I cannot be at peace with myself, others, or God.  Being at peace sounds so cliche.  However, peace brings so many other things to the table.
1) Peace brings Freedom-  Freedom to do more, freedom to encounter people you never would, freedom to let go of bitterness, freedom to…. We could all make our own list of freedoms we desire.
2) Peace brings Joy- True happiness is found in experiencing joy.  I know it sounds strange but, there are those who do not have the freedom to experience joy because they’re too caught up in being critical.
3) Peace brings Abundance- Having a negative attitude limits our possibilities.  It also gives us a mindset that we cannot be all we are created to be.

In life there are cycles.  We can be in the cycle of PEACE>FREEDOM>JOY>ABUNDANCE>PEACE>FREEDOM>JOY>ABUNDANCE, or we can continue on that road with the critical spirit where resentment is only the beginning, on this cycle RESENTMENT is followed by RESISTANCE.




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