This past week, I was struck several times by critical comments from people in my community spoken in such a way that insinuated they had a better notion of how things should be done than the way things were. Behind these comments was a layer of cynicism, or as one person put it, a sense of disillusionment.

I am no stranger to cynicism. As a generally sarcastic person, I find my sense of humor often crosses over that invisible line between playful irony and biting criticism. It’s something I’m actively working on. One of the most basic ways I’m working on it is with the discipline of silence.

Sometimes keeping silent about the way things are and the way things might be is a bad way of going about things. It can allow injustice to thrive. Or, less egregiously, it can allow inefficiency to run rampant. In such cases, so long as you’re speaking the truth in love, raise your voices to the roof!

But sometimes we voice our opinions just because we think we know better, without considering that ours is one of a thousand voices expressing often contrary things to people whose job it is to find what works not just for you, but for the whole. I’ve noticed a remarkable lack in my conversations with people recently: a lack of grace.

I don’t mean to suggest this problem exists only “out there.” I’m one of the perpetrators too. I recently let my opinion of someone I used to know out in the open. I expressed the opinion somewhat comically, but it wasn’t very favorable. Then he showed up and was perfectly kind and intelligent, and I realized I’d missed one of those important opportunities to keep my mouth shut.

I should note that this happens to me quite a bit. It’s rare that any of my preconceived critical opinions ever lasts the test of time. I’m nearly always humbled by my ability to assume someone or something is less than they are—less capable, less intelligent, less worth my time.

This is one of the reasons I’m trying to extend grace towards those who seem to be having trouble extending grace themselves. Because heaven knows we all need it.

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