I’m accustomed to a fair amount of criticism. As an author and a speaker on a variety of platforms, it comes with the territory. My story, message, and style isn’t for everyone. I get it. Truth is I’ve received far more positive feedback than negative. So the rare criticism I do receive doesn’t usually phase me.

Until I read this book review a few weeks ago:

“The author seems more concerned about convincing the audience of her spirituality with fragmented descriptions of multiple mission trips rattled throughout the text, than (sic) on giving the reader any palpable advice on navigating faith. Parts of the book felt trite, while others were deep with emotion. This read more like an uninspiring autobiography, than a faith-building experience on which to inspire a reader. I am hestitant (sic) to even give this feedback because the author seems emotionally fragile…”

Trite. Uninspiring. Emotionally fragile.

Ouch.

It took me a moment to catch my breath. I stared, unblinking, at my computer screen, trying to swallow the sharp words, feeling a bit shredded in the process. This criticism felt personal, aimed more at my character than my work.

Is this true? Is this how people see me? 

There was a time not that long ago when this kind of feedback would’ve devastated me. I would’ve assumed one person’s opinion represented the greater whole. And, as a result, I would’ve threatened to quit, to hang up my luggage and laptop and settle into a more anonymous life. Who willingly submits herself to target practice? Not me, no thank you.

But this time, the sting didn’t last. Nor did it cause me to resign, change course, or double-down on my efforts to make the whole world happy. Instead, within minutes, I shut my computer and got back to laughing with my closest friends.

Why?

Because I no longer delegate the power to determine my value.

For the past few years, through multiple losses and countless hours spent wrestling with my faith and identity, I’ve finally landed solidly on the truth of who I am. And it’s not up for debate or subject to public opinion.

It’s not even subject to my own.

Who I am is rooted in who Jesus says I am. And the hard work He’s already done, without any effort on my part to earn it or deserve it. 

The TRUTH? I am loved, without condition or prerequisite. God sees me as I am, and loves me anyway. It’s that simple. 

I don’t have to work my fingers to a nub trying to get it all right. I don’t need to manage others’ reactions and opinions. And I don’t have to agonize over every line I write in an attempt to side-step the critiques and misunderstandings of a one-day reader. All I need to do today and tomorrow is this:

To wake up securely in God’s presence.

To examine my heart and actions in the light of His truth.

And then to fall face-first into the ocean of His mercy and grace.

I’m painfully aware of how much growth I’ve yet to do. God knows I have moments when I am trite, uninspiring, and emotionally fragile. And He also knows how many times I’m tempted to impress you with false spirituality.

But God keeps pulling me back to Himself, working a redemption in my heart and mind and life I couldn’t accomplish in a thousand years if I tried. And I trust Him to finish what He’s started.

I hesitated writing this post at all. Why waste any more time on unproductive criticism? Time is better spent not on wrongs and wounds, but on the One who is even now repurposing them. Besides, I am 100% okay—I don’t need reassurance, validation, or retaliation. He’s got me covered, I promise.

But sometime today, tomorrow, or next week, someone is going to throw words at you that cut deep. It will hurt, and you’ll be tempted to buy into the lies about your value because of the misspeak of the person who wounded you.

You can’t afford to wait until that day to find your footing. 

So here are some truths to put in your pocket for the day when criticism cuts deep. It still won’t feel good, but you you’ll be okay. Because you’re already covered. And you’re already loved.

  • I am weak. God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
  • I am broken. God says, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” (Is. 61:1)
  • I am wanted. God says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
  • I am received. God says, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.” (Hosea 14:4)
  • I am valuable. God says, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:31)
  • I am led. God says, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Is. 48:17)
  • I am loved. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jer. 31:3)

NOTE: These statements and Bible verses are pulled from my book I Am: A 60-day Journey To Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is and the accompanying Scripture Cards and Easel. You can find both here. OR, if you’re a Kindle reader, the e-book is currently on sale for $4.99.

QUESTION: Which truth means the most today? I’d love to hear your story.

 

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