I sat next to her in the crowded doctor's office. Soon I wished I hadn't.
"Good morning, " I innocently nodded her direction.
"Well, it WAS til I got here. I had a 10 o'clock appointment and here I sit an hour later. It IS a waiting room for sure! I got this bug from my daughter who brought it home from school. Parents today don't care about their kids or anyone else for that matter. They just send them out with fever or whatever and spread the germs around."
I picked up a magazine, trying to be invisible. Didn't work.
She glanced up at the TV news and spouted, "I get so sick of politics, politics, politics. Bigwigs in Washington are all corrupt. They don't know nothing."
Bet they know about double negatives, I thought, turning the pages more quickly.
"It's who has the most money that gets elected anyway. The whole country's going to pot, if you ask me."
Yet her whiny drone continued covering topics from weather, traffic, cell phones to causes of cancer. She had the news on everything, and it was all bad. A human double negative herself.
That's the tale of one sittie I landed beside.
Another day I sat down beside a business man awaiting our call to jury duty.
"Good morning," I nodded innocently. Slow learner. I reached into my purse for my Reader's Digest.
"Yes, it is!" he chirped.
"You sound happy. Most folks don't like jury duty."
"It's not that I like it but, ya know, our system of justice works better than in most countries. It's not perfect. But it's an honor to serve. I used to be military and saw quite a bit."
"I grew up military too. Lived in Cuba awhile."
"Then you know what I mean!" he sparked. "We're so blessed just to live here and don't even realize it. Fresh water everywhere, freedom to move about, even an education and the ability to read. The poorest in America would seem rich in some third world countries."
I smiled, nodded, forgetting my magazine, still closed in my lap.
"I grew up dirt poor," he continued, "but my parents gave me everything I needed for life. . .love and a good work ethic. Because of that I grew up with far more than they ever dreamed of having in education, jobs, everything. Opportunity! It's everywhere! Just gotta seize it."
He was my sittie #2. I was glad I chose that seat.
How do people sitting near you feel? Are you a complainer, griper, whiner? Or do you see the good, the blessings around you? Both are habits and you choose.
"Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing."
Scroll back over your recent facebook posts and see what they reveal. Mentally replay your usual conversations with your spouse or kids. Hear yourself, tone of voice included. If you have developed a critical spirit, there is a cure. This excerpt from Proverbs 31 ministry may jump start you:
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Try to identify the root cause of the critical spirit. It’s in there. What benefit do you get by being critical? Do you feel ever-so-slightly better about yourself because you’ve identified a flaw in others? Do you think some people deserve to be put in their places? Are you resentful that others have what you don’t? Do you hope people will be motivated to change based on your critical observations? Sadly, most of those “benefits” aren’t healthy or true – only harmful to everyone.
Once you’ve identified the root, start to work on that. Most of us need God’s help to deal with these tough issues. If the root cause is insecurity, we need God’s truth to remind us of our value. If the root is judgement and pride, we need God’s forgiveness and humility. If it’s resentment we need to be content.
The best of times? The worst of times? You have the choice! Next time you sit down with someone, lift them up with your words!