When our children were young, squabbling and tattling drove me nuts. He said… but she…and then he said…
I’d try to listen and straighten things out.
And then someone played the trump card – THAT’S NOT FAIR! Every. Single. Time.
No matter what I said, the atmosphere, which could have been perfectly cheerful only moments before, suddenly filled with anger, malice, slander, and curses. SELFISH! STUPIDHEAD!
We decided that the children themselves needed to learn to give honour and respect to their opponent, even if they disagreed. That’s where the three nice words policy started.
For every insult or negative word spoken against a brother or sister we asked the children to say three nice words about them before regaining privileges. Every protest of “But Mom, he is so…” doubled the required nice words.
Now when you are really mad at your brother it is hard to come up with three nice things to say about him. Sometimes it took a period of thinking about it in their room and they had to dig deep. You are good at tying your shoes.
After a while I realized I needed to say more nice words myself – especially after the toddler told someone he thought his middle name was Stop-it.
Words can change atmospheres. When we come in the opposite spirit we avoid getting sucked into the vortex of tit-for-tat nastiness. I changed my words from “How could you be so careless?” to “You are learning more about how to pour milk. Let’s try again.” The result was a better attitude in both of us.
I read through some of the posts on my usual social media sites today. These posters are my “friends.” Some of them are learning more about how to disagree respectfully. But honestly, sometimes I feel like going all Big Mama on them and telling some writers that now they need to say three nice things about the politician, the preacher, the journalist, the bus driver, the pharmaceutical companies, the pipeline workers, the other denomination, other party, other country, other province, other gender, other orientation, other team.
We can talk about what we believe, that God is love and that he will take care of all our needs, but if we have nothing kind to say and merely squabble and tattle to other people or try to guilt them into taking up our cause by shouting THAT’S NOT FAIR! we demonstrate that we don’t really believe in His ways. We forget we can talk to him about our problem (especially if it is caused by the choice of someone else.) We act like scared victims left to our own devices, in this case, electronic devices.
What we truly believe shows up in our words and actions when things don’t go our way.
So here’s my challenge. Discussing ideas is one thing. Tearing down people is another. If you have neglected to bless the person or institution who has you so riled up and you have posted negative things about them, say three nice things about them. (Do it on you own page — very few will read it here.) You can change atmospheres.
If you can’t think of three kind words, you have a bigger problem than they do. You might need to go to a quiet place and think about it for a while.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Jesus