I recently used the word alleviate in an article that I was writing and although I knew what the word meant I looked it up to be sure that I was using it in the right context. It meant what I thought it did, to ease or lighten, to lessen, improve or relieve. However, I was a little surprised that the antonym of alleviate is aggravate.
This immediately brought to mind a lesson that I tried to instill in my daughter. If you can’t be part of the solution, at least, don’t be part of the problem. There are many times on the way to school when I knew she was not looking forward to something that lie ahead of her that day that I had her quote Philippians 2:14. “Do all things without murmuring and complaining.” I knew that whatever happened gripping about it would not alleviate the situation or her mood.
Have you found that murmuring and complaining tends to aggravate not alleviate most situations? There are so many messes in our world today aggravated by murmuring and complaining. Just look at the political situation. Yes, I agree that there are problems on every side of this election. Yes, I agree we have the right to our opinion and as Christians should take a stand. But, are we really helping anything by murmuring and complaining? I often wonder if we would just hush for a little while if we would hear the still small voice of the Lord giving us direction on such matters.
Conflicts within our churches can be looked at the same way. Are we alleviating or aggravating threats against the unity of our church. Satan loves nothing more than getting God’s children taking sides against each other. A good question to ask ourselves when these situations arise is “Is what I think or have to say about this, going to improve the situation or make it worse?” Being petty isn’t pretty, and it isn’t pleasing to God.
Even in our homes, we can choose to not be an aggravator. Find ways to lighten that disturbance that come to cause disharmony. Sometimes laughter can defuse a tense situation. Other times, when it is a more serious circumstances, it may take restraint and putting a lock on our mouths. Make a conscious decision to choose peace whenever possible. The scripture tells us “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) (NIV)
Do you know people that seem to always in a bad mood? Don’t be one of them. One of the lessons in my book, 101 Life Lessons From Uno (The One-Legged Duck), is “Find Simple Pleasures.” This is a quote from that lesson,
“Whatever is wrong, let something be right. Let something no matter how simple make you smile.”
We need to check ourselves from time to time to see if we are frowning more than smiling because our mood can aggravate or alleviate the mood of others.
As I read back over what I have just written, it struck me as sounding negative, and I certainly didn’t intend it that way. So I want to pull the positives out and leave them with you. We can choose not to add to the messes of our world by getting quiet before the Lord and waiting for his direction rather than complaining. We can choose unity in our church by not letting Satan get a foothold in the door through pettiness. We can choose to ease tension in our home by choosing peace whenever possible. Finally, we can check own mood and learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of life that will get us well on our way to being an alleviator instead of an aggravator.
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