Attitudes Revealed

In a moment of uncommon candor, I responded to a question from an acquaintance (let’s call him Bill), “Yeah, I sometimes react that way, too.” Oops.

He wanted to know more.

Might as well tell him

Repairs to the Sole in SW China

. I said, “Well, I tend to be … critical. Too critical.” Suddenly, I wanted to vomit the bad stuff out on the carpet (confession is good for the soul, you know). “Bluntly, I’m quick to judge, evaluate, criticize—all to myself, of course—anybody who doesn’t meet common-sense standards, which are really my standards. People who drive too fast or too slow, someone grossly overweight, the guy talking loudly on his cell phone and I judge them—right away. If somebody has a sour look or doesn’t control their rowdy kids, I think, what a loser.’”

Bill simply looked at me, saying nothing. I expected censure for being so censorious.

I told him about an incident the other night, as I drove into a local supermarket parking lot. “First I should say that one of my pet peeves is people who leave their grocery shopping cart … where they unloaded it. They don’t bother to put it in the cart corral; they just get in their car and drive off. What if everybody did that? They are like people who don’t pick up after themselves—selfish and lazy.

“Anyway, as I turned into an open stall, I saw this grocery cart right in front—between me and the SUV this lady was getting into … I cut the engine, hopped out and grabbed the grocery cart—I’ll show her. She saw me coming and her eyes widened. I wheeled the cart beside her SUV and tapped on her window. She rolled her window down and I said, ‘I’ll take your cart and put it where it belongs.’

“She looked at me like I might be dangerous and blurted, ‘No, it’s not my cart.’ I could tell she wasn’t conning me.”

I felt like a real jerk. My attitudes had slipped out, revealing a side of me that wasn’t very pretty. Even if that lady had left the cart blocking the parking stall, it wasn’t a federal offense, for crying out loud.

Bill knows me pretty well so we talked some more. Then he said, “I got an idea that works for me. You know why some people can lose weight and they keep it off; other people—their weight goes like a yo-yo?”

“Sure, they’re disciplined—the ones who keep it off, that is.”

He said, “Yes, but they do it because they keep track of how many calories they’re putting into their face. They stop before they exceed their limit.”

“So how’s that gonna help me?”

Bill said, “Keep track—every day. Count each time you feel critical.” He gave me a grin. “Why not?”

Yeah, why not? I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and got a golf stroke counter. Five bucks and it’s compact enough to carry in my shirt pocket.

Being in church kept my number down on Sunday—only 4 incidents. Monday, 7. Tuesday, not so good—12—the tail-gater behind me, the panel truck that pulled in front of me plus some I collected at home …

Now I’m aware that a spiteful, arrogant attitude percolates close to the surface. You and I know what it really is—the sin nature, growing inside like a fungus. My “Critical Counter” helps but it won’t erase my problem. It simply shows me reality—how many times my self-righteousness makes me a modern-day Pharisee. A common problem? Sure, the Apostle Paul struggled with it—read Romans 7.

Some might say I’m legalistic, trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Keeping score. Well, when I wasn’t keeping track, it was easy to slough it off. But when I looked at that poor lady in the SUV, I knew I had a problem.

The best way to defeat a critical spirit is with a thankful heart, which comes from the Lord Jesus.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Th 5:18

My experience showed me how blind I was to my true nature. With God’s help, we can separate ourselves from that which diminishes us—and those around us.

What has helped you in your daily walk?


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Attitudes Revealed

  1. Julia Sumrall says:

    Very good! Certainly food for thought. I will take it to heart! Thanks Sam!! Bet I notice a difference in my thinking now.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Julia Faye. Our purposes are found in Romans 12:2 “… not to be conformed to the world … but to be transformed …” The power to change our thinking comes from our Lord. He will work it out in us, if we give him permission to do so.
      Let me know how it’s working.

  2. Doug Bolton says:

    I certainly can relate to what you spoke of here. A similar story is the one of a boy who got in trouble at school a lot. He got angry too much. His father told him to hammer a nail into the fence everyitme he felt angry and said something to someone he shouldn’t have . The boy started putting the nails into the fence. Slowly the number of nails started getting less, until he didn’t have to put anymore in. He proudly showed his father. His father then told him to take every nail out as he said something good to someone. The nails came out fast. The son again showed his father. The father said, “That is very good son, but look at the holes the nails left. They will be there forever. When you hurt someone there is no turning back. It leaves a scar.” This is an excerpt from my book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.” Your post was very good, my friend.


    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Doug, for this apt example. With the lady that I spooked, I probably won’t get a chance to rectify my overzealousness. Just another reason to look at things (and people) with the realization that I don’t know the whole picture. And even if I did, would that give me the right to straighten everybody out.
      I’ll tell you, I was humbled by that situation and I want that humiliation to stay with me for awhile.

  3. What a great idea, Sam! I’m afraid my clicker number would be hard to face. Guess that probably means I need to face it.

  4. Bill Tillman says:

    Just call me Bill. Last Saturday I woke from a stupor, I caught a glimpse of a College Band on the field before the game. How long has it been since you have seen a Marching Band? Everything is finely crafted at half time to segue into the talking heads. It is not funny how many things can be taken away from you in life, before you realize it.

  5. Janet, our long-time friend says:

    Now that kind of transparency just might keep me coming back to this blog! Way to go, Sam.

    • samuelehall says:

      Jan, thanks for the encouragement. It was hard to do–putting this out to the world–but in my years left, all I have left to give is just me. If it will help someone else deal with their issues, praise God.
      Your friend and ongoing work in progress …

  6. Steve Kilpatrick says:

    Happy dieting Sam!

    From Joburg SA

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Steve … I think.
      A word of caution: Be aware while in Johannesburg–where you are, where you can go (quickly), who’s around you, and what they’re doing. Try not to find yourself alone. Keep your passport and $$ v-e-r-r-r-y close, inside your shirt. You’re a seasoned traveler but Jo’burg is one city where I never felt I could relax.

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