Get through the season with grace
BY DR. ROBERT E. FOWLER
Office parties. Home gatherings. Church fellowships. At this time of year, we are frequently in the public eye.
While these occasions can bring great joy, they can also be a source of frustration, anxiety, and discomfort. Often we find ourselves being judged on multiple fronts — whether it be for our character, our fashions, even our holiday decorations.
These insults can sting, even when they’re unintentional. Here are a few tips on handling criticism, so that we can arm ourselves against these hazards and savor a joyous holiday season.
Respond rather than react. In fact, intentionally under-react.
Evaluate honestly. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Cut yourself some slack here, too; you’re not as good or perfect as you’d like to be. It’s okay. Own your mistakes — grow through them, rather than go through them.
Remember, we often speak out of pain and frustration. Sometimes, the behaviors we hate the most are those that mirror our own. People fail just like we do! Aspire to understand the offender with grace.
Try not to take everything so personally. It might not be about you. Hurt people hurt people.
Take your pain to the One who can handle it best. I love how David, in the Bible, frequently and honestly complained to God. In the process, God’s presence grew much larger in David’s life —and overcame his problems.
Try really hard to listen first and foremost to the One voice that matters most. Sometimes we have to turn down the volume of our critics, and turn up our sensitivity to the Father’s words. His voice heals. His words soothe our wounded souls. His truth must become our truth. We are loved even when we fail.
Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. We do not have the option to hold on to desires for retribution or revenge. Release your accuser from judgment. In fact, pray God’s blessing upon that person. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. It truly does.