Happy Wednesday to you!
Criticism is a part of the human experience. Honestly, there is no way to escape that type of assessment. Before you leave this life, you will encounter positive and negative judgments on your character, your possessions, your style and much more. However, you should never allow criticism to discourage you. Instead, acknowledge and welcome positive criticism and filter out and ignore the negative. Be mindful that positive criticism is not synonymous with praise. Furthermore, sometimes your enemies can present positive criticisms. Therefore, it's important to not only examine the source of a critique. You must also attend to the nature of the critique.
To effectively respond to criticism, you must have knowledge of God and knowledge of self. Knowledge of God allows you to know what is the right and acceptable way to live. Knowledge of self allows you to determine whether you are being presented with truths or falsities. Let me give you an example. If you know God, then you know that you were created in His likeness and image. If you know God, you also know that He is good and there is no imperfection in Him. If someone were to come up to you and call you ugly or unattractive, you should be able to realize that statement is a lie. Knowledge of God would allow you to know that you are beautiful and loved. Therefore, you can reject that negative criticism.
On the other hand, consider the following example. You have gained 70 lbs. You're taking in a lot of calories, and you are not exercising. Your lifestyle is becoming increasingly inactive. Your physician indicates that your cholesterol levels are not great. You run into your not so favorite aunt at a family gathering. She notices your weight gain and invites you to join a fitness group in your area. Afterwards, she says you both can check out a new vegan restaurant. You know that this aunt lives 10 minutes away from your residence. In addition, she enjoys healthy living events (i.e. 5Ks, dance classes, organic/whole food markets). In this instance, you cannot look at her critique as negative. Your aunt is offering fun solutions to help you lose the extra weight. Although the two of you may not be very close, her critique is a sign of concern. Thus, you can accept her critique as positive.
I am certain that you are critiqued in a variety of venues (home, work, school, etc). Sometimes, the intensity and frequency of the judgments can overwhelm you. For this reason, it is important that you have a time of solitude each day. You need a moment in time where you can disconnect from people and connect to God. Read an encouraging passage of scripture. Take a walk around your neighborhood, leaving behind all electronic devices. Lie in bed with your eyes closed and breathe. Remind yourself that you are valued. You are a person of purpose. Obstacles and challenges only exist to transition you into a better version of yourself. Hateful, jealous, and fictitious judgments don't apply (so let them fly). Loving and honest judgments may be painful; however, they allow you to be fruitful.
As you reflect on this post, take a moment to look at yourself from two perspectives: 1) the person being critiqued and 2) the person passing judgment. Be honest about the words and opinions that have caused you pain. Be honest about the words and opinions that have strengthened you and made you a better person. Going forward, strive to treat others justly. Keep pressing toward righteousness. Until next time,
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.