There’s one thing we can all agree on – that somebody always disagrees. Go ahead, disagree with me. You’re only proving my point.
In college my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I attended a weekly worship night on Thursday’s called Grace. It brought students from the three Christian universities in town – Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons, and McMurry – together to worship. Matt Chandler was the weekly speaker, and Matt now leads a mega-church of over 10,000 people in the Metroplex. He’s a fantastic teacher. He’s funny. He always “brought it.” It was hands-down some of the best preaching I heard in my college years. He was the closest thing to a Christian celebrity I’d ever seen in person. We were all gaga over Matt Chandler.
One week he said something that made me pause. I realized I disagreed with him, and after worship I told Christina about it. She thought for a moment and then said, “I like that you disagree with him. I like that you don’t just agree because Matt Chandler said it.”
From that day forward I had my mission: disagree with Matt Chandler.
After Grace each week we’d discuss the lesson in the car on the way to wherever we went next. I’d let conversation flow for a bit, and then I’d chime in with, “Yeah, but did it bother anybody else when he said…”
It was gold for a few weeks. Everyone seemed to appreciate having such a sophisticated theological mind to keep the likes of Matt Chandler in check. But after those few weeks passed, I was the only one impressed with my critique. It was almost as though people just took the good and ignored the bad. Like they didn’t want to hear about the time Matt Chandler said it was Genesis 2:8, but when I looked it up it was actually Genesis 2:16, so…
After a while I even exhausted myself. Dissecting a person’s words in hopes of finding fault will ultimately reach its goal. You will find something wrong with just about everything everyone says. Whether it’s politics, religion, play group, the local op-ed, your mom, or the fry cook at Burger King, you will find something wrong if you’re looking for it. You will find a reason to complain. However, as a word of caution, if this is how you spend your life, you will be exhausted, and so will everyone around you. Spending your days searching for the negative is about as unhealthy a way to live as a diet of McDonalds, Miller Lite, and Marlboro’s.
This is typically a power move, right? We point out the negative so we can feel superior, smarter, better than all the sheep that willfully bowed to the guy saying nice things. It’s arrogance dressed in a really bad suit. We all pass through stages when we play the “I’m-Smarter-Than-The-World” game, but that’s usually in adolescence when one bad hair day can ruin your entire junior year. Everyone was so sensitive and self-absorbed back then because they were terrified of being ridiculed. Sadly, many of us don’t outgrow that habit, and the only thing worse than a self-absorbed 17-year-old is a self-absorbed 37-year-old still trying to prove he’s smarter than everybody.
The opposite is also true – if you’re looking for the good, you will find it. There’s good everywhere and in everything. But we only see it when we’re looking for it. And aren’t we drawn to the happy optimists? Don’t we generally enjoy the people who are amazed at everything? Don’t we prefer to work with people whose answer is “Yes” first, and they work and work and work until the only possibility is to say “No?” We like those people, but somehow they’re not contagious. We get sucked into Negativeville because it requires little-to-no effort to say no. It requires no effort to disregard someone’s passion. It sounds too hard to get swept up in the joy and thrill of living a life of wonder.
One of my favorite YouTube clips ever is Louie CK on Conan talking about how everything is amazing but nobody’s happy. You should watch it.
For one day, let’s just all be happy. If you have kids, be thankful you’ve got them instead of complaining that they’re being annoying (that one’s for me). If you’re upset with that politician for saying that thing and not doing that other thing, be glad you got to vote. If you have a job, be thankful for it whether it’s your dream job or something you hate. If you’re stuck in traffic, be thankful you have a car; you could be walking to work. If you’re low on cash, be thankful you had enough to make it to today. If you’re reading a lousy book, be thankful that you’re among the world’s literate citizens. If your team lost, be thankful for the sport you love.
Turn off negative TV and radio. Stop yourself before you speak ill of something without acknowledging the good. Be amazed at the world. Live happy. And give us all a break because, just like you, everyone’s doing the best job we can.
It’s fine if you disagree.