I’m becoming an expert at dealing with mean people.
And the crazy thing is, they’re everywhere. In the grocery store. At the mall. In the airport. Sometimes making their way into our churches and ministries. Sometimes hiding behind the most beautiful faces.
But often times, they come in hiding. Hiding their face behind the safety of a computer screen. Whether in the form of a rude email, a degrading comment, or a scathing Instagram comment…yes, mean people are everywhere. If you take a moment, I’ll bet you can think of one, maybe even some.
Since becoming an author and public speaker, I’ve had the unfortunate “privilege” of interacting with more mean people than I’d like to count, on many different levels. Whether it be their complaining, their unconstructive criticism, or their entitled attitudes one thing is for certain: mean people always speak the loudest, and they always have something to say.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for correction, constructive criticism, honest feedback, and receiving guidance and direction from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I will always welcome suggestions, godly advice, and a loving heart pointing me right where I’ve been wrong.
But it sure is telling of the culture we’ve created when we’re far more inclined to share the negative than we are to encourage with the positive.
I once wrote an article for a influential publication about encouraging one another, but then made the brutal mistake of reading through the comment section. Even with an article that received over 10K shares indicative of support- the people that decided to leave their comments, were of course….the mean people.
How ironic that an article about encouragement would have solicited a barrage of discouraging comments. Surely, they had missed the point. Or did they?
As I started thinking about all of this, I realized something: we’re all “wired” toward the negative, aren’t we? As human beings, it is so much easier to think of the negative, to share our complaints, and to point out the wrongs of those around us- and often, we stay silent about everything else.
I remember when my husband and I were on our way home from church discussing that mornings sermon and how it had spoken to our hearts. We were going on and on about it and realized something – neither one of us had made it a point to go and encourage our pastor by sharing what God was doing through him.
It’s not that we were trying to hold back, but true encouragement takes time, effort, and energy. True encouragement, is a discipline.
What if we were all to take a step in the direction of encouragement? What if we were deliberate to share the positive things that came to our mind and our heart? What if we were to say yes to speaking words of affirmation to the people God has placed in our lives, no matter how seemingly insignificant we think those words might be.
I believe we have the power to change the world with just the speaking of a few thoughtful words. I believe we have the power to drown out the noise of meanness, criticism, and hatred, discouragement, and animosity- simply by choosing to be the voice of truth.
If every word is a gift, let us be the ones who give generously, mercifully, and with containable grace.
Here’s to drowning out the meanness. May it begin with you. May it begin with me.
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift”. Ephesians 4:29
I would like to take the time to intentionally encourage you! Below are some upcoming online events through zoom.
- Singles Night Out! An Online Event with Debra Fileta and special guest Chad Johnson – Wednesday, February 9, 2022 from 8:30pm – 10:30pm EST
- Married Sex Book Club (FREE) – Wednesday, February 16, 2022 from 8 pm EST-10 pm EST
- Healthy Relationships Group Session for Singles – Friday, February 25th from 8 pm EST-10 pm EST
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in dating, marriage, and relationship issues, along with a spectrum of mental health disorders and issues. She’s the author of True Love Dates, Choosing Marriage, Love in Every Season, Are You Really Ok?, and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the Love + Relationships Podcast, a hotline-style show where people call in to get their relationship questions answered!