Criticism can really sting. If it catches us off guard, it can shake us deep inside, and leave us feeling vulnerable or even judged. Too much can end up making us over-critical of ourselves.
Which is probably why I’ve been acting like a huge baby for the past few weeks. For fear of criticism on a single chapter that could determine if, in fact, a publisher will accept my first book. I’ve sat here at my computer, staring at the screen, afraid to pour out the words in all their strength.
All this because I’ve had people rain on my parade before. I’ve faced enough criticism delivered as accusation, judgment and rejection, that it can literally stop me in my tracks.
Ever been there?
Well good news, then! Because rain is a very good thing. It helps crops grow. It keeps the weather balanced. It sates our thirst. It keeps us young by keeping our bodies hydrated. Like actual rain, criticism that rains on our life’s choices can offer four great things:
- It helps us grow. Proverbs 15:31 says “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (NLT). Not only does listening to critique grow wisdom, it grows patience, and even confidence as we consider all perspectives of something we’re saying or doing.
- It keeps the internal weather (our perspective) balanced. It reminds us that life’s about relationship and nothing we do exists in a vacuum. While people’s opinions don’t dictate the course of our lives, their feedback is part of the give and take of relating. Our listening to criticism (even if we don’t agree) is an act of love.
- It satiates a deep thirst. We crave truth, because it frees us to see ourselves and others realistically. Dictionary.com describes true criticism as that which evaluates the authenticity, value and merit of someone’s work. I don’t know about you, but I ultimately want an honest appraisal of my behavior and work, even if it does sting a little.
- It keeps us young. Youth is more resilient and flexible. As we age, if we don’t regularly receive and respond to productive feedback and criticism, we become brittle and unyielding. That’s no good for the bones in our bodies (osteoporosis, anyone??) and it’s horrible for relationships, too.
As I’ve been considering the value of criticism, I’m making the choice to get my act together and complete the edits I need to do for this book. I’m going to look straight up at that rain coming down on my parade and drink it instead of run and hide. (And I’d love accountability… so if you think of it, please ask if I sent it in to the editor by my next post!)
What about you? What will you do to embrace a gift in criticism today?