I really don't know what I was thinking when a few days ago I chose to read the comments posted on one of my latest articles. To make things even worse, I decided to torture myself even more by finding my book on GoodReads and reading the latest reviews (something I haven't done in over a year).
To be fair, most of those comments are beautiful, uplifting comments that inspire me to continue writing and sharing those things that I hold most dear. I treasure those comments and I am grateful to those who take the time to share their goodness with me.
There are other comments, however, that are disrespectful, mean, and even hurtful. It is when I read those comments that I ask myself the question..,
Why, in a world where there is already so much anger and ugliness would people want to add their own hate to it.
Why do I feel that I need to be validated by people I don't even know, or even people that I do know for that matter?
Why is it that even if there are 101 compliments, it is the negative comment that I remember and that will haunt me for days and weeks and months on end?
Why are we more inclined to share with the world what is bothering us rather than thanking others for the contribution they are making?
Why do we choose to be critical and see the bad first while completely overlooking the good, both in life and the people around us?
Social media and the internet have made it easy for us to throw ugliness and negativity at one another. Without face to face interaction, it is easy to sit in front of a computer and allow all our emotions and negative energy to flow through our fingers forming words that then find their way all over the big wide web. Without seeing facial expressions or having the social cues of a real human to stop us from saying anything hurtful, we instead have a computer that is all too happy to be a conduit for our negative emotion. It has to go somewhere, right? So rather than hurt the people we love, we hurt people we don't even know and tell ourselves we are doing a service for others in helping them know what they should and shouldn't do based on our experience.
To be honest, I find the whole review concept flawed. Each of us are unique individuals with individual likes and needs, yet we set ourselves up as experts and act as if our opinion is the only opinion that should matter. We pretend to know what others should do, buy, read, visit, eat, but forget that every experience is different because every individual is different. I find it interesting that we take advice and make our choices based on the opinions of people we don't even know rather than trusting in our own God-given ability to choose correctly for ourselves. We cringe when people judge us, yet we're asking them to judge everything else. Is it any wonder we continue to judge each other?
When I read the negative reviews on my book, I always wonder, if the person who wrote it knew that I was going to read it, would they write it differently. Would they try to be kinder, a little more loving, and a little less judgmental of me? One reviewer said I was ignorant and naive and that they threw my book in the trash without even finishing it. My question to the reviewer is why would you review a book you never even finished?
But then I think about how this applies to life.
How many times do I judge people, circumstances, or events without having all the facts, without really knowing who and what they are? I do it all the time and I suspect the majority of us do.
There's a reason Christ told us not to judge. It's because we'll never have all the knowledge we need to judge fairly. We will always be blinded by our own circumstances and our own limited knowledge. The people who love my book love it because it speaks to them, they can connect with it because somewhere in their life, their heart was open to the messages the book has to offer. Those who have a negative reaction to the book may suffer from their own difficult past, from an inability to accept their own trials or have a bias when it comes to mental illness based on their own personal beliefs and life experiences.
So it is with everything we do in life. The people we meet and the circumstances we encounter will all have both positive and negative aspects to them. It is up to us to choose what we want to see, It's my hope that we can see the good and realize that the bad we see comes from our own inability to understand, our own lack of knowledge and our own weaknesses. The flaws we see in others stem from our own weaknesses, not the other way around.
When we let go of our anger, our hate and our negativity, and embrace the love of God, we can see all things from His perspective and learn to love as He loved and that includes loving ourselves. We will no longer need the validity of others because we will know the love of the only one who truly matters. And more importantly, the next time we leave a review, we will outline the good qualities rather than the bad.
What you choose to look for is what you are going to see.
So this is my call to action....
Stop looking at life with a critical eye and choose to see the good, and when others like to bring out your weaknesses and flaunt them around on stage, learn to click delete.
From this experience, I have learned that life is too short to spend my precious time taking in the negativity of others, especially people I don't even know. It doesn't matter what someone in Kentucky thinks about me, what should matter most is what I think about myself. I am an amazing, precious, wonderful child of God. He has a plan for me, just like He has a plan for you. It is up to each of us to figure out what that plan is and live it to its fullest.