I just called my good friend Kendra. Kendra is a volunteer leader for ROCKHARBOR High School ministry. I’ve been leading the church’s students alongside her for the past couple years and over the course of time we have developed a pretty solid friendship. She has her Ph.D. in Psychology and she works as a Child Therapist. In addition to being my friend, she has also been somewhat of my own personal therapist. Whenever I need to vent about something, she has always been there to help me talk out my problems. Why am I telling you all of this? Well she didn’t answer her phone.
Here’s a confession: I often suffer from a self-diagnosis that I call “overcriticism”. I’ve been taught to think and I’ve been taught to read. I read a lot. And I think a lot. I believe it is important to pursue knowledge and understanding about just about anything that you find interest in. But what lies in the journey of reading and critical thinking, comes a myriad of identifiable problems. The issue here is that, the problems that I identify are often the problems that are vastly too large for me, or anyone, to fix in the near future. Oh yeah, there’s another problem – I am also impatient, and often apocalyptic in my perspective of the future. Maybe this is just paranoia? Nope. That was just a paranoid thought.
This is my black hole of a mental process: I first notice certain problems, form an opinioned answer to fix it, attach passion to my messianic answer, then wrap my mind and attention to the current issue in my mind until it becomes an obsession that can’t be satisfied. It can’t be satisfied until I vent about. So here it is. I won’t get into details about the issues that I am unable to shake frustration from. The last thing that I want is my therapeutic word vomit that I share with the world to offend anyone. One thing that the internet and social media has taught me, is that words are forever. Also, words seem to sting much more when it’s written digitally and without a sympathetic human face to lock eyes with. My preferred form of communication is, and always will be, personal face-to-face conversation.
I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding between what I am calling overcriticism and hypercriticism. I actually don’t see too much of an issue with overcriticism – as long as there are healthy avenues to relieve the stress that it might cause. However, I believe that hypercriticism is unhealthy within itself. I define overcriticism as identifying problems and thinking of rational solutions that can help the given situation progress and carry it out through wisdom. The problem of overcrticism arises when I obsess over the problem and allow my emotions to be influenced by an issue that is far out of my reach. I define hypercriticism as identifying minor problems too often and speaking out aggressively on the minor issues at hand in a way that influences the overall environment. Hypercriticism is negative in nature and focused on giving power to every problem possible, which doesn’t help anyone progress past the problem. I do feel the need to clarify this difference because I am actually passionately against hypercriticism, especially within the halls of the Church. Critical thinking is a beautiful God-given gift that can be used to advance the Kingdom, but hypercriticism can have the power to dampen the move of God in a situation – but that’s a whole nother topic.
So in the midst of my constant overcriticism of our political system, educational system, corporate world, mass marketing, wealth distribution, nutritional habits, mass media, self-centeredness, music, fashion, and the Church, I have had to learn one thing: How to remain optimistic and to maintain the Mind of Christ in a world of chaos. My duty as Christian, as I’ve written many times, is to represent him well as a Christ-ian. In other words, you and I are called to be “little” Christs. A representation of the Father’s Love to an orphaned world. This is the key to my optimism. In the effort to change the world, it starts with the person right in front of us. If I cant express the love of Christ to the people around me, then how do I expect to impact the whole world with the love of Christ? This mindset, this perspective of bringing Heaven to Earth through prayer and obedience, is what drives me everyday. This gives me purpose. And my hope and my heart’s desire is that any one word in this long post can somehow inspire you to seek God’s voice and leadership in your life.