Criticism

How do I kill the critical beast

Who breaths heavy in my ear.

His thoughts are not inside my own,

But he remains close just to jeer.


He’ll go through my ear and take over my brain,

If my mind keeps letting him in.

He is not a friend, rather the farthest of foes,

And I want an end to this sin.


I remember in middle school someone came up to me and said something really mean. Instead of sticking up for myself, I just started crying and ran away... In a nutshell, that’s basically my relationship with criticism. I was always so shocked someone would say something mean... until I grew to expect it.  I started expecting that people were being awful to me in their minds even if they were not being awful outwardly.  

 This totally spiraled out of control, as I became ultra critical of myself and everything I did, hoping I could and correct myself before others could think the terrible things. 

This went on until the accident. After the accident there was so much to criticize about myself that I wanted to give up altogether. I allowed God to speak truth into my life, and that’s when the game changed.  

I think struggling with criticism is super common...

I have come a long way as I journey towards killing self-criticism. I felt like I was finally freed from living under my own critical eye, but I let a lot of criticism back into my life. A lie that I’ve believed is that people are not as critical of you, as you are of yourself. That used to help me as a defense mechanism before I hung out around some very critical people.  I’ve seen that others can point out my flaws a lot faster than I can nowadays. People DO see my flaws and criticize, it’s not just my imagination. Comments said by people I know have a way of staying in my mind, even when they’re not about me...  

The other night I took a deep breath as the heavy rain battered on my roof. I have to find a way to kill the critical beast holding me back from enjoyment, peace, and FUN. I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY... and I felt that as the bride this is my job... and then I realized that’s unhealthy.... 

The heart of it is that people ARE going to judge Matt and I, and our wedding. What we do, what we wear, where we go, who we are with, etc. will all be judged. Not necessarily judged in a negative way, but judged nonetheless. If the flowers are pretty or not, if the band is any good, if they like our wedding favors, if the food tastes good, etc. I would like to please EVERYONE. From Matt, to our family, to our friends, to the random plus 1 date who I do not even know...

Pleasing everyone is never going to happen (which makes me SO SAD), and the weight of if all but stiffled me this week. (And I’m SO early in the whole process!!!!!!!) When I’m trying to please everyone, I wind up pleasing no one (and especially not myself)...

So how do you stop criticism altogether?  Decide which voices are the most life-giving, and listen to those voices.

One thing I have learned is that in order to stop being critical about yourself, you need to stop being critical of other people. In the same way, in order to stop being critical of others, you need to stop being critical of yourself. It is a two-way street no matter how badly you try and keep them separate.

The voices we should  be listening to should be be growing us, challenging us, inspiring us, and always surrounding us with love.  Perhaps not always the “feel-good” love, but true unconditional love.

With a foundation of a secure identity in WHO God says I am (rather than what I can do), I can focus on a much healthier perspective. 

As I was praying, I asked God to show me His perspective. He did.

I saw myself as His daughter trying so hard to please Him as I walked down the aisle. I saw His love for me, and my love for Him. It relaxed me and made me so sad to think I could be critical of myself. I saw myself as someone that God took time to create, pour into, and love. In creation God took a step back and said it was good. God created me and believes I am good just the way I am; imperfections and all.

I then took a step back as I was on the phone with Matt. He is so happy to marry me. He wants to marry me just because I am me. He will not care what I look like because he always thinks I look beautiful (even when I ASSURE YOU I DO NOT). He will not care about the flowers, the centerpieces, the dresses I pick for the bridesmaids, or what the invitations look like. He will care about the food tbh.... but he will not care about what anyone tries to criticize. He is just thrilled to be marrying his best friend. I am still so in awe that that is me.

Moving forward I need to be choosing the voices I am allowing in. Some of the voices are completely made up in my head, and some are as real as a slap on the face.  Rooted in my identity of WHO God says I am, I have the confidence to do what He has called me to do. It is important to always remember that God does not criticize. He convicts of sin, and He loves. Shame, guilt, and condemnation are not from Him. Criticism wants to steal my joy in this time, but with a solid foundation I am FREE to enjoy the process.

 

One day instead of listening,

I looked at the beast in the face.

He was not big and scary,

Instead he looked out of place.


A waterfall roared through my ears,

Pushing the beast far away,

Coming from the source I let in,

And the current is here to stay.

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- Jenna