Last week I got the milk out of our fridge and, as a precautionary measure, smelled it before I poured it. Sadly, it had been there so long it evolved into another possibly illegal form. My first instinct was to run it immediately down the drain.

However, I needed my family to smell it first. It’s not that I don’t love them; it’s just that I wanted them to understand how repulsive it really was.

Who in the world has to show everyone how terrible milk smells?
Why was I so fixated on telling other people?
Why not just throw it out and be done with it?
It’s the same reason we can’t let go of a negative comment or undeserved criticism.

Our minds become hijacked by what was said to us, and we cannot let it go. We play it over and over like a broken record. We have to preserve it and then share it with everyone else. We tell anyone who will listen. Or, in the case of the milk example, we keep opening up the lid for all to see. We hold on to the criticism for dear life instead of just throwing it out and moving on.

But, practically speaking, here are three ways to stop smelling the bad milk.

Three ways to deal with negative comments, criticism, gossip, or hurtful words that come your way:

    1. If at all possible, go straight to the source. For eleven years, I have basically only had two rules at Rustic Cuff. One of them is to go straight to the offender when you are offended…or talk to me so I can help facilitate reconciliation. It has nipped many things in the bud by directly dealing with it. It takes out a lot of gossip and miscommunication by taking the bold step of discussing the hurt face-to-face.
    2. Stop talking about it and rehashing it with other people. Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out, without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Don’t be tempted to keep the fire going by allowing yourself to tell anyone and everyone who will listen to you.
    3. This last one is the most difficult one, but it works so well. It’s tricky because the last thing we want to do when someone is unkind to us is to turn around and shower them with kindness. But the Bible says that your reward will be great when you bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you.


When I pray for those who are hurtful, it becomes harder to resent them for what they said or did. You will discover when you go out of your way to show kindness when others don’t deserve it, walls will come down. Gentle words can heal broken relationships, and kindness can melt angry hearts.

Albert Schweitzer said, “As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”  At the heart of it, people just want to be loved. Insecurity causes so many to use words that tear down instead of build-up. However, the miraculous can occur, within our hearts and theirs, when we cease talking about it to others and show love to those who do not deserve it.