Ending the Cycle of Negativity
I can't even count how many times in my life I have had negative encounters with people, who unleashed upon me a diatribe, angry criticism, personal attacks and the like.
I also can't count how many times I have thought of something awesome to say to the person who is attacking me after they've unleashed their venom and then walked away.
You know how that feels, right? Whether it's moments or a day later, the thing you should have said comes to you, and you find yourself saying, "Oh my gosh! I wish I had said that!"
There was one time in my life were I said exactly what I wanted to say to someone who had attacked me publicly. It was when I was an assistant manager at Best Buy and another manager in the store falsely accused me of something in a manager meeting.
Our argument continued out into the store, and I finally stood directly in front of him and inexplicably said the following--a thought turned to words that came forth from somewhere deep within me.
"I'm going to dance on your grave," I told the guy. "And I'm going to wear a kilt."
Come on! You know that's amazing. I mean, where does that kind of thing come from? It was inspired, I am sure. And for the first and probably only time in my life I walked away from a confrontation and said, "THAT was exactly what I wanted to say."
The only problem with my scenario is that in the moment I was doing exactly the opposite of what I should have done. I was repaying evil for evil. I was mirroring exactly the kind of negativity I was being offered. I didn't break the cycle.
In his first letter to the Church, Peter writes the following:
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. (I Peter 3:8-12)
At some point, we need to realize that the only way that we are ever going to have peace the people who oppose us, is when we refuse to participate in the conflict, lay our weapons down and stop the cycle of negativity. "No retaliation," Peter writes. "No sharp-tongued sarcasm."
If we embrace the fact that, as followers of Jesus, our job is to be a blessing, we will start to reframe our struggles with people who want to dwell in the negative all of the time. We will see them in a different light, and we'll finally be able to move beyond negativity into the joy and hope of resurrection life in Christ.
May you find ways to break the cycle of negativity today by refusing to repay evil with evil. May you find ways to speak grace and peace into the world, to be a blessing and to be blessed.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.