Categories
Daily Word

NO ONE LIKES A CRITIC

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

I have a strong dislike for being criticized, don’t you? No one likes it. We want to be liked and accepted for who we are, the way we are.

However, there are those in our life who feel as if they have been anointed as God’s policeman, ever ready to point out the slightest misstep of another.

Criticism, by its very nature, is usually non-accepting; and often, that is the motivation behind much of the criticism leveled at someone.

Most of us don’t mind sitting around the table at a restaurant and listening to and participating in the criticism flung at our government or the weekend’s loss of a game to an otherwise unworthy opponent.

However, when the critic takes aim at us, well…

The Bible gives us numerous ideas about criticism and how to handle it. We find a major example from King David as he was being criticized.

(2Sa 16:13) So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust.

Shimei was a despicable character, having nothing nice to say about David at all—until he came face-to-face with the king. (That hasn’t happened to any of us, I’m sure.)

David’s men wanted to slay Shimei, but David would have none of it. He said, “If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” (2Sa 16:10)

Jesus, too, was unjustly criticized, yet he “opened not His mouth” in response. (Isa. 53:7)

Consider these verses from Proverbs that tell us how to handle criticism.

(Pro 13:18) If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.

(Pro 15:31) If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

(Pro 29:1) Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

We are told that if we listen to and accept criticism, we have the chance to be among the wise and to be honored. If we ignore or refuse criticism, we have the chance to be humiliated.

Which would you prefer?

Our default mode is to bristle at any and all criticism.

How about taking a middle-ground approach, and consider the possibility that—EVERY CRITICISM of you, your methods, actions, beliefs, or statements deserves at least a moment’s consideration.

There may be an element of truth regardless of the motivation of the critic.

Categories
GRACE

THE SECOND GAZE

Do you SEE this

Woman?

“The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this affect me?” or “How does my self-image demand that I react to this?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads to an implosion of self-preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended” can we immediately (or at least more quickly) stand with and for the other, and for the moment.” (Richard Rohr in Daily Meditations, 1/1/21)

When I read that, I am reminded of Jesus at Simon’s house. Simon was a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner. When Jesus was at the table, a woman of the street came in and anointed Him and washed His feet. Simon had not offered this common courtesy to Jesus.

“Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (Lk. 7:44)

DO YOU SEE THIS WOMAN?

Simon saw a sinner and immediately went to judgment about her and Jesus.

Jesus saw a sinner and immediately went with compassion.

All too often I find my identity with Simon rather than with Jesus.

Hypocrisy?

Maybe. But it is not intentional nor practiced. It is the result of decades of believing that pleasing God meant that I must protect my personal sanctity and defend God’s name. That became my default mode.

I am learning a new methodology—that of grace.

Only the second gaze sees fully and truthfully

Father Rohr continues–
“In the second gaze, critical thinking and compassion are finally coming together. It is well worth waiting for, because only the second gaze sees fully and truthfully. It sees itself, the other, and even God with God’s own eyes, the eyes of compassion, which always move us to act for peace and justice. But it does not reject the necessary clarity of critical thinking, either. Normally, we start with dualistic thinking, and then move toward nondual for an enlightened response. As always, both/and!”

May I learn to not stop with the first gaze, but to take time to really see.

Categories
Daily Word

YOUR TABULA RASA

As the pandemic appears to be

on the decline and we have the

opportunity to return to normal,

it would be a good thing to

consider what ‘normal’ may look

like.

There were many jokes about “the new normal” of forced isolation and the wearing of bank-robber attire. We are at a place where a new normal is on the horizon.

The older generation always longs for “the good ol’ days” when things were supposedly simpler. Nostalgia is their stock-in-trade. However, this desire for the old normal has been true from time immemorial.

If we take just a simple look at history, we will see that there is no going back. Time marches on, and the times they are a’changin’.

We’ve never been at this place before. We have been in a place of fear—fear for our lives, fear of our neighbor, fear of the next newscast. This fear has produced a generalized negativity in the population wherein only the worst is expected.

Time marches on and the times they are a’changin’

The church has lost its place of authority in people’s lives which has been replaced by the government and media. Our times of worship have gone from once or twice a week to at least once a day—often more—where we are told what to believe and how to act by someone we don’t know.

Most of the people reading this grew up through the ‘60s of the previous century when that kind of thinking was thrown aside for a more commendable process of critical thinking and asking questions. Sadly, critical thought has been replaced by criticism of anything with which I don’t agree.

No longer do we question that which is fed us by the government or media. We willingly accept whatever is dictated as the new normal.

Since we are at a crossroads, we have the chance to change all that. As the pandemic subsides, we will be presented with a blank slate—a tabula rasa—upon which we can write a new story, a new way of life.

Hopefully, during this time of forced isolation and the lack of visible smiles and a warm handshake or hug, you have begun to discover what is important to life.

Will you seize the opportunity to make your life better? Or, will you try to simply return to what you were doing a year ago?

The silver lining in all this is that we are given a blank slate, and one should never waste a blank-slate moment to write a new story.