I think I'm almost over it, but the fact remains that I am still observing people I love (as brothers/sisters in Christ) just ensnared in the grip of negativity and I'm so saddened about it. At first, I was angry. Angry because the negativity came out in a very ugly, hurtful way... and let's just face it - I'm human. It's not like I'm Iron Man... or Woman. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a load of crap. But then I just became sad because these people are really the ones being hurt by their own inability to see things on a larger scope.
Anyway, I've been really studying the Word and seeking God on how I need to respond to this. Regardless of how other people chose to think or act, I have a responsibility to respond in a godly manner.
I listened to a teaching by Brian Houston (whom I respect highly) on negativity, and here's what I got from it:
1) Negative people are actually unhappy with their own life. There is obviously something going on underneath that would make someone incapable of seeing the good in something. Matthew 12:34 says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If you find yourself constantly rolling your eyes and finding something negative in the things around you, I'd be wiling to bet that you are just generally unhappy and dissatisfied with your own life.
2) People who are negative will ALWAYS think they are right. They can't even fathom the possibility that they are wrong. Proverbs 16:2 says that "all a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord."
3) Negativity breeds negativity. My grandfather always said "if you mess with poop, you're gonna get it on ya." Basically I think what he was saying is that if you surround yourself with people (or even A PERSON) with a negative nature or someone that leans toward the negative, you are going to pick up that nature! Proverbs 13:20 says that he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. I think when the Word speaks of fools in this context, it might be a self-righteous meaning. ???
4) Negativity distorts the truth. My son Luke will often get in a bad mood and make statements such as "No one loves me. Everyone hates me. This is not a good family." Now, first of all these are NOT true statements! Everyone loves Luke and we are a good family. And usually it's not long before he will recant his statements and apologize and give everyone hugs. Ah, if only it was like that with adults! It's too often that we get cranky or in bad moods and then the next thing you now, we're seeing things through a CLOUD of falsehood.
Which brings me to the last thing:
5) Negativity makes uninformed, dumb judgments. I know of someone recently who decided to make a judgment against someone else... and then decided to become OFFENDED based on the judgment he had made. It really was a very general, rash judgment that did not take into account any investigative or supportive proof. He just decided he wanted to be mad about something and so he was. He then allowed this offense to fester and take root and cloud his views on other things. Did he take his offense to the person who supposedly offended him? No. He just talked about it to other people. To make a long story short, it turns out that once he finally did talk about it to the right people, they were able to explain the other person's actions and shed a completely different light on it. See what I'm saying? Instead of choosing grace and compassion and being open to the possibility that there might be more to it than what he was seeing, he chose to make a harsh judgment.
So then what do we do? My answer right now is the answer I've been handing out like candy. "Think thankful thoughts." It's so simple, yet so profound. 1 Peter 1:13 says [ Be Holy ] Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Grace has been given to us by God. Let's pay it forward.