“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
– Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV)
“It (love) is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Before I get into the gist of today’s post, let me say to you up front that I so struggle with this one. It’s so real to me, that I almost didn’t post about it for fear that those reading this who also know me would think I was being a hypocrite. I just wanted you to remember that these are things that affect my mothering skills. This one also manifests itself in other relationships in my life and some of you have witnessed it, I’m sure. It’s ugly. Lord, help me!
In making the list of the giants that try to control my actions as a mom from time to time I had two words come to mind that are closely related. So this third giant has two heads.
It is the giant of criticism and chronicling.
Do you know this one? Here are some of the signs that you may be under the influence of this two-headed giant:
- it seems as if no one in the house, especially the children, can please you in a given time period and so you utter all complaints as soon as your husband enters the door after a long day at work. Yes, he loves to hear your whining right then (note the sarcasm).
- you lose signs of hope and/or trust for your child in a specific area (like doing chores) and may have sarcastic thoughts and doubts when he promises to do his assigned chores. After all, he’s said he would follow through before and you’re still waiting. See the score-keeping?
- your family has tuned you out when you speak. They may be more accustomed to your critical commentary and thus, have grown rather sick of it and now tune you out.
- are you alone a lot when everyone else is home? Maybe they have scattered and run for safer ground in another room in order to avoid the critical tone and chronicling of wrongs you may recite as a habit of life.
Like the others, it manifests itself in other relationships as well. It can grow into gossip and a mentality of following the complaining mob. It is easily provoked. It seems to develop as a result of unrealistic expectations you have placed on others and yourself. It seems to rarely be happy.
Trying to break free of this one while in the presence of co-complainers is extremely difficult. They won’t understand and may even criticize you to your face for being all “high and holy” now. Don’t fear, they’ll recite the chronicles of all the times you have gone on a negative commenting binge with them. Of course, they’ll talk about you behind your back, too, since you decided to turn over a new leaf.
When my flesh wants to follow this path, it’s as if the path is steep and downhill. If I take one step down the path of criticism I am done in and it’s almost impossible to turn back. The momentum is too great and before I know it, I’m full-speed ahead down a path of doom, leaving in my wake a swath of critical comments and records of wrong.
So, what to do? Pray on the armor before your feet hit the floor in the morning. Then, try to meditate on some verses that will help you combat falling into the giant’s snare of a critical spirit that remembers every wrong (intentional or not, real or not) ever done to you. Also, try to find something good to legitimately compliment your children on. Find a way to constructively correct and encourage rather than condemning them with harsh criticism and a reminder list of everything they’ve done wrong today.
I’m thinking of this verse as a good one upon which to meditate. It’s from Ephesians 4:29 and says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (building up) according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (NASB)