thoughtless or less thought?

A lot of time and effort had gone into creating a resource. It had been honed, refined, shaped and adapted over a period of several months after the initial version had been finished. Finally it was ready to be released and there some positive feedback.

But there were also some people who made critical comments about the resource on social media. The critical comments were not about the core message, nor were they about the concept. They were complaining about one small aspect of the resource. It was not as if they said, “We like these aspects of the resource, but wonder about that one…” They simply complained about one aspect of the resource and had nothing positive to say about the rest. They denounced the whole thing because of one minor part of it.

For those who had invested time, creativity and effort into the resource it was incredibly disheartening that some people could not see past the one thing they did not like and were not able to write anything positive. It was even more disheartening that the people who felt critical about it decided to post their comments on social media for all to see rather than speaking privately to those who had created the resource. The delight at what they had created had been replaced by misery and disappointment. And the good work that had been done felt tarnished by the negativity. Maybe the people who wrote the negative comments were simply thoughtless, or maybe they gave less thought to what they wrote because they wrote on impulse but the impact was the same.

The story above could probably be told many times over, perhaps with minor adaptations, about how people respond negatively and critically on social media to what others have created. You could replace ‘resource’ with ‘cartoon’, ‘book’, ‘website’, ‘blog’, or ‘video’; you could replace it with ‘TV show’, ‘film’, or ‘song’; you could replace it with ‘politics’, ‘philosophy’, ‘spirituality’ or ‘morality’ and it would still resonate as true. Somehow we have reached a point where it is deemed entirely acceptable to be negative about what other people think, create, do or say and even to insult and personal in the critiques. And they wound in ways that cannot be easily bandaged.

Photo by Pixabay on

In days gone by, before social media and the internet were even embryonic thoughts in the minds of those who created them, comments that were intended to be seen by others were usually printed or broadcast on TV or the radio. And what was said was usually moderated because people knew that they were subject to the laws of libel and defamation. In law the main defences to libel and defamation are truth or that it was an honest opinion and the impact of libel could be reputational or financial with recompense awarded accordingly. For some reason nobody seems to apply these laws to what someone splurges across the www!

Have we lost our filters of decency? Have we stopped thinking about the impact of our words on other people? Do we think that those who are the subject of vitriol or ridicule are immune to the effects of our comments? Are we less thoughtful and now are thoughtless?

The worst thing for me about the story at the start of this bloggage is that it is a true story and relates to something that was created for churches to use. The negative comments were made by Christians. Christians are not perfect, we make mistakes, but it saddens me when we flaunt those imperfections in full view of the online world without thought.

Be blessed, be a blessing

tales of the unexpected

surpriseIt’s sometimes the unexpected things that make the biggest impact on us: the critical comment that came out of the blue; an accident; bad news that shocks us…

I think it is partly because we have to react ‘in the moment’. We have not had an opportunity to prepare ourselves, to think about our reaction, or to brace for impact. We respond with instinct and adrenaline and they are not always the best of partners because they don’t last and afterwards we can feel physically and emotionally shaky because we did not respond in the way that, had we been prepared for it, we would have like to.

Perhaps we snapped back or were rude. Perhaps we got angry at someone else for the accident (even if it was our fault). Perhaps we took the bad news badly and lashed out. I hasten to add that any similarity between scenarios I have sketched above and actual events is purely unintentional and unexpected.

I hope and pray that I might respond with grace, serenity, wisdom and gentleness in those circumstances. I know that this is not always the case. Over-reacting can sometimes do as much damage as the initial unexpected event and we need to ask for forgiveness and set things right if we have not responded in the right way.

But tales of the unexpected aren’t always bad. Following the recent announcement of my new calling I have had some very kind and generous comments from people. I have also had some unexpected cards and letters from unexpected people that have blessed me no end because of the time and thoughtfulness that lay behind the buying and writing and sending. They blessed me no end.

There are those moments when someone tells you that they really appreciate something you have done – something which you didn’t really think meant that much.

There are times when something good happens to you that you might even have hoped for but which you never imagined would happen in reality.

There are unexpected, unsolicited hugs.

There are times when I read parts of the Bible and the words are apposite for me at that moment and it makes me smile.

There are so many ways in which we are blessed by the unexpected. And because they are unexpected, unsolicited, unplanned, we have not been able to prepare for them or work out how to respond. For that reason I think they sometimes make a bigger impact on us because of that.

If you want the ultimate in unexpected positive outcomes look at the reactions of Jesus’ friends when he met them after his resurrection! Words like ‘overjoyed’, ‘astonished’, ‘amazed’ and so on don’t really begin to do justice to that experience.

Because we are familiar with it we can sometimes downplay Jesus’ resurrection (heaven forbid!). Why not re-read one of the narratives and put yourself in the sandals of his friends who had seen him crucified, thought it was the end of the film and weren’t expecting there to be a sequel? How do you feel?

And perhaps today you can bless someone with an unexpected positive moment. You may find that it makes a bigger impact on them than you expected. And in doing so you may well find that God has used you too!

Be blessed, be a blessing