In learning as much as we have, we have experienced many things. Most of them have been positive, some not so much. But we have learned just as much, if not more, from those negative things.
One of the reasons we go through trials and struggles, I believe, to be able to show the world that our hope is not in this life, but in an eternal one with our Father. I have known some amazing people in my time as a Christian that handle life's trials and struggles with a staggering amount of grace and reliance on God. It has been a great example to me.
One thing we have learned about the most is facing judgmental attitudes and critics. Handling criticism or correction, when deserved is difficult but necessary and useful for growth. Handling criticism or correction when it is not deserved is much more difficult. No one likes to be rebuked or corrected, but as Christians, if a fellow brother or sister is able to do so, with love and gentleness the way we are required to in Scripture, it can only serve to help us grow closer to each other and to God.
We have more often than not been exposed to the kind of correction that is being done in a Scriptural way, thankfully. We have on occasion been exposed to criticism that was both undeserved and grossly mishandled. One of those times, is what the rest of this post is about.
Several months ago we received an anonymous letter proclaiming in very hateful words and attitude all the many flaws we, my husband, children and myself have. We have since heard from many in the field of ministry that this is not an uncommon occurrence. That, to me, is pretty awful but the subject of a different post I guess LOL. Our leadership in the congregation handled this letter in the best way possible. There was no name, so obviously no one could be specifically pulled aside and talked with. Our preacher addressed it, to the congregation, as something that should never be done. He too had received his own letter seemingly from the same person.
When we got "the letter," I did not think it would have gotten to me the way it did. I had been steeling myself up to face just such an experience since I had heard it could happen. I do not have the thickest skin and it is something I am trying to work on. I had not prepared myself enough. Now, I understand that this would not have been possible for me. This letter was SUCH a slap in the face and it shot straight through to my heart. It hurt my feelings. It made me angry. I went into family preservation mode almost instantly because it was an outright attack on the four people I love most in this world. It was awful.
My children knew it was there, though we did not share with them what it said. They knew we were sad or upset about something. We could not and did not want to avoid the issue since they were obviously old enough to pick up on signs that all was not right. So, we shared with them the overall view held about us by whoever this person was that wrote this letter. My children instantly handled the situation in a way that I was both proud of and ashamed of myself that I had not done so first.
Their response was various forms of, "That person is very sad and probably lonely. They need Jesus. We should pray for them." I was humbled and proud and knew I needed to adjust my way of thinking as well.
We prayed for whoever this person was right then and continue to do so throughout our prayer time. I now pray for this person daily.
I do not know who this person is or if anything in their relationship with God and His church has improved or not. As far as I know, there has not been another letter received by anyone in the congregation. We have not received any more.
I do find that writing is a form of therapy for me, so I wrote this person a letter. I had no one to send it to but I know God knows who they are and what they need. It was a growth experience for my family and for me. I am now grateful for the opportunity to go through it. I will be able to handle anything like it in the future more gracefully and more Christ-like than I did this time. I believe this was at least part of the purpose.
This is what I wrote to our anonymous critic.