Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

(Picture: Meet Theo.)

I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.

For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.

But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.

Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.

Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.

My First, Second, and Third Reactions

  1. My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
  2. My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
  3. But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.

God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.

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Save Yourself from Anger with This Mind Hack

The Lord's Prayer Can Be Your Secret Weapon against Losing It

I never thought the Lord’s Prayer would relate to anger. That’s probably because we usually associate the prayer with that sort-of-feel-good moment in church when we all pray the words together. But anger?

Save Yourself from Anger with This Mind Hack

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

It relates especially when we find ourselves asking, Why am I angry all the time? Especially in my relationships?

It’s tough to see the Lord’s prayer helping much with anger. But it does.

Here’s how.

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What to Do When Feeling Depressed (and What Not to Do)

It started when we were kids. We still deal with it in today. We fail to receive love, and we drag bruised emotions behind us for years, still aching for affirmation.

Before we know it, our attitude becomes: “Who will make me feel good today?” Oh, we won’t say that, but we seek it. The result? We get to feeling depressed.

What to Do When Feeling Depressed

(Photo by Photodune)

It’s not only relationships that challenge our joy. I remember reading about a woman who suffered from a disease of chronic fatigue. She decided to perform on herself the ancient procedure of trepanning—the cutting away a section of the scalp and drilling into the skull. After the operation she made a statement.

I was prone to occasional bouts of depression and felt something radical needed to be done.

When you’re feeling depressed—for whatever reason—and you need to do something, here’s what you can do.

And what you should never do.

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Downside Up: Transform Rejection into Your Golden Opportunity

Downside Up: Transform Rejection into Your Golden Opportunity [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2013)

When I first picked up this book, I assumed it would be a lighthearted look at rejection. (Though, I’m not sure how.) It wasn’t.

Instead, Downside Up connected with the ugly reality we face in relationships. In some way, rejection has cut us all—leaving scars of all sizes—and some of us still bleed every day in our work, marriages, friends, churches, and even written correspondence.

Sometimes others’ rejection of us is intentional, but occasionally, it also represents our own inflated sensitivity. Regardless, the rejection we feel is real. By the way, I guess I could feel rejected as a man that the book seems to address women primarily (as does the promo video above), but there’s a lot here for men too.

Tracey Mitchell’s book does more than examine rejection from these various avenues of entry. Each chapter concludes with elements that I found the most helpful parts of the book:

  • Chapter Principles—if you read nothing but these, you’d get a good, general sense of the chapter’s contents as well as some great takeaways for application and renewing the mind against the raw feelings that rejection often brings. Super, super stuff here. These little nuggets are the best part of the book.
  • Words of Wisdom—offers a simple Bible verse that relates to the chapter’s theme. Good for memorization and even better for meditation.
  • Power Quote—a quote from various individuals that says in a few words something worth thinking about.
  • Plan of Action—offers a direct application to do what the book’s title says we should do with rejection: turn it upside-down.

My opinion was turned upside down after I read Downside Up.

If rejection is something that’s eating you, you’ll find encouragement here.

Question: How do you deal with rejection? To leave a comment, just click here.

By the way, I received this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. The review is my honest opinion. The FTC requires I tell you. See 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged—What Jesus Meant

Thankfully, He told us what He meant so we don't have to guess.

The best-known Bible verse used to be John 3:16. But our culture has a new favorite. In fact, it has become the trump card played to justify any and every lifestyle. It’s even a quote from Jesus.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged—What Jesus Meant

(Photo by Photodune)

The phrase is often quoted as “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” While the meaning is the same, it’s interesting we have learned the wrong wording from the 1611 King James Version. It should be: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” The verse often is taken to mean nobody has the right to judge anybody for anything at any time.

The problem? The verse has a context. Jesus told us what He meant.

When Jesus spoke these words on the slopes surrounding the Sea of Galilee, He wasn’t saying never to judge. He simply warned about doing it the wrong way—by telling us how to make judgments the right way.

And believe me, it ain’t easy.

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How to Deal with Jerks in Your Life

I’m always amazed how some couples have no problem fighting in public. Once I stood in the popcorn line at the movies and the couple in front of me were arguing. In this case, the man was way out of line.

I wanted to take his popcorn, soft drink, and hot cheesy nachos and dump them down his pants.

How to Deal with the Jerks in Your Life

(Photo: by Robert Byron, via Vivozoom)

Some people are, well, just flat unlovable. On good days we call them “jerks.” On bad days we’re tempted to cross the line and be jerks right back at them.

It’s for those days the Scriptures urge us:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. . . . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. —Romans 12:17–19

Sometimes this command seems impossible with jerks. And honestly?

It is.

Only with God’s help can you deal with the jerks in your life.

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Compliments and Criticism—The Difference May Surprise You

The trouble with most of us,” someone once said, “is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” That’s really true. Go ahead, ruin me.

Complements and Criticism - The Difference May Surprise You

(Photo by diego_cervo, via Vivozoom )

The truth is, we can work ruin by either extreme:

  1. Give nothing but compliments.
  2. Offer only criticism.

Words that compliment and words of criticism both strike like arrows, and they seldom miss their mark.

But the huge difference between them can be surprising.

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Dysfunctional Greeting Cards

I’m convinced some company could make a killing if it had the guts to market dysfunctional greeting cards.

Most birthday or holiday cards gush with flowery sentiments, like, “To the Greatest Father in the World,” or, “Mom, you are my best friend.”

Yeah, well, what if they weren’t?

Greeting Cards

What if your dad was an angry jerk and your mother abused you? What if your brother backstabbed you and stole the inheritance?

Where are the greeting cards for reality?

Just once I’d like to see a card that reads, “Mom, you blew it . . . but I love you anyway. Happy Mother’s Day.”

It’ll never happen.

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