Psychologists tell us that for every one negative message we deliver (or receive), there should be 10 positive messages for counterbalance. That goes for teachers, parents, spouses, bosses, etc. That makes us all sound a tad on the emotionally fragile spectrum when you put it that way, but let’s just unpack that truth for a minute. I think we will find it to be pretty accurate.
I mentioned last time I wrote that I was planning to do a whole series on “Jerk for Jesus” (If you missed it, go back and read it now so this will make more sense). I think the fact that I can pull 3 or 4 posts out of that one incident proves the truth above: one negative interaction often outweighs a good amount of positive ones.
Think about some of the ways that truth has rung true in your life. Do you ever latch on to harsh words, a hurtful exchange with a loved one, an act of betrayal from a friend, or a critical review from a boss? Even if it is one tiny blip in an otherwise lovely day or relationship, I too often find myself ruminating on that blip for days or weeks. It can affect my job performance, my self-esteem, my emotional stability, my confidence, and my general outlook on life and relationships.
And yet…And yet….
The fact that I am still thinking about that interaction and writing a blog series on it, highlights another important truth (one that I don’t particularly like): We learn best and grow most from the hard stuff.
If we choose to.
The only reason I started writing is that I got Leukemia. And the only reason I am still writing is that I have a chronic disease of the soul—Common Plagues of the Heart, as I call them—that will provide me good material until I take my last breath.
If we don’t let God redeem the mean, yucky, horrific, stressful, hurtful, painful stuff of life, we are going to be pretty miserable. But God can and will help us use the punch of those experiences to help us grow up and use our life-lessons and perspective to encourage others who are going through the same.
I always say, “we go through what we go through so we can help others get through what we went through”. That’s a catchy paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV) that tells us that God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Negative, hard, and hurtful conversations and actions are rampant these days. In that 10-1 ratio, the “1” really packs a powerful punch.
But if we let Him, God can use such situations to remind us that what He thinks of us is the only opinion that ultimately matters (and in case you have been misinformed, He loves you unconditionally), and that He can use situations/words/interactions that someone meant to harm us and turn them into opportunities for growth in us and encouragement to others.
So I say a hearty thank you to “Jerk for Jesus”. I don’t plan to waste this chance to learn a couple of things. More to come. 😘