We've all been there. We're waltzing around like Mary Poppins thinking all the happiest thoughts in the world and there strikes an intruder-- a critical spirit.
What's our gut reaction? To defend ourselves. To play the game. To stoop to that level.
A critical spirit is just like a prison. It traps its captors in and doesn't let reason in with it. It paints a broad, unthinking brushstroke over every good deed or kind act that person has done and rears its ugly head in critical thoughts, comments and unkind gossip.
It's easier to spot in someone else other than yourself, especially if the criticism has been leveled at you.
If you do happen to spot it in yourself, you can take care of it like nobody else can for you.
The opposite of a critical spirit is compassion and understanding, combined with thankfulness.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, since I used to think my "duty" to pass judgement on whatever came my way. If I somehow didn't express a clear opinion of the situation that came my way, then I wasn't a thinking person? or something? I can only tell you how it robbed me of all the joy any situation afforded.
In situations where I can't possibly know all the facts (which is most things!), I give myself permission to assume the best! It's such a wonderful, liberating feeling. If it is a worst-case scenario, God will make it plain. I don't need to go imagining it in my mind.
When someone is late for a meeting, I assume there was a real, genuine reason for them being late. Maybe they found a person in need along the way who needed help?
When someone speaks harshly to their children in public, I think: Maybe they've all had a hard day. I've been there, too!
You get the idea. Isn't it a nice thing to be around yourself when you aren't imagining worst-case scenarios all the time?