Moments for Mom: Accepting Criticism from Others
- Elizabeth K. Corcoran
- 2004 6 Jun
I asked my 7-year-old daughter, Sara, the other day if she was out of glue as I was making a list for Target. She said yes. I asked if she preferred a bottle of glue or glue sticks. She said glue sticks, so I jotted it down and ran some errands that evening. I came home after the kids were in bed, so I placed her glue sticks and some drawing paper that I bought for her on her desk with a post-it that said simply, "Sara, I love you. Mommy". I thought for sure she would be pleasantly surprised and at least mention the gifts in the morning, if not tell me thank you. Instead, I had to ask her if she saw what I had left her. Without saying anything, she went in her room and brought out the note I had left for her. This is what she had written on the back:
I do not love you too.
p.s. becus the glue sticks aer for school!
(meaning, I shouldn't be considering this a gift since it's a school supply and not for pleasure!)
I was blown away. It's one thing for a child, in the heat of the moment, to yell "I hate you!" (which thankfully my kids have not done yet). It's quite another to intentionally write the words 'I do not love you'. A little bit of my heart broke in that moment. I was crushed. (And not the kind of crushed that Sara refers to when she talks about her 'boyfriend' and them being 'crushed on each other'.)
I found myself unable to speak to her in those few minutes before taking her to school. I was hurt. I was shocked by her ingratitude. But then I did try to give myself a pep talk by reminding myself that she is just a child still. Those words did not come from a fully mature adult who should know better. They came from a little girl who knows honesty above tact, and real feelings above putting on a mask. But that reminded me of a couple weeks ago.
Because a couple weeks ago, I was Matthew 18'd three times in under 5 days. If you're not familiar with Matthew 18, allow me to quote from verse 15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." Three people saw things in me that needed to be corrected. One handled it well...beautifully and sensitively, actually. So well, that I owned up to my errors and vowed to work on those areas.
Another handled it, and my heart, with general carelessness...but unfortunately, I have gotten used to that kind of treatment from that person...so my skin is a bit thicker when it comes to that individual.
And the third...well, part of the rebuke was that I can be difficult to work with. To be honest, I was thinking...'and your point is?....' Nothing new there...I have high standards, what can I say? The other part - this person said I can be insincere. That cut to my core...mainly because authenticity is what I admire most in my closest friends...and authenticity is what I strive for in my relationships. I can't stand people who seem fake, who put on airs, who put people down to build themselves up, who don't mean what they say, who are artificial and hypocritical. And that is what I was just told that I was.
I have wrestled with that conversation...with the word 'insincere' being my new moniker...for weeks. I keep trying to give it over to God. Part of me thinks -- this person told me she's been thinking about this for a year now...she told me she's been praying about how to talk to me. I have to give her and her assessment due credit.
And another part of me thinks -- she's a sinner too. This judgment did not come straight from the lips of God...it came from another human being. I realized that with my closest circle of friends - I am about as genuine, real and lay-it-all-out-on-the-table as I can get. But I also realized that with women who don't know me well, and whom I don't know well, I may have a guard up over my heart. I've been hurt in the not-so-distant past, and I have placed a band of emotional soldiers up to keep out those who might come to steal and destroy...to those people, I may seem insincere. So I came to the conclusion that I needed to give it proper weight...not too little...not too much.
I can be so sensitive. But I'm probably not alone. Who likes to have someone walk up to them and start rattling off their faults? I'd wager just about no one. We will all probably have someone Matthew 18 us in the future. We need to be open to other people's thoughts...even constructive criticisms. But we also need to be very discerning...not to let everything anyone says about us shut us down or mold our thinking about ourselves. We need to test it against what God says of us.
Do you have people's words floating around in your head? Something someone has said to you that you can't shake? Something that has hurt you, left you questioning yourself? When that happens, and I don't say this lightly or as if it's a quick fix, but...bring it to God. He knows you're hurting. He holds your true assessment. Let Him tell you who you are and what is good and true about you. Moms, He loves you completely...and that's really the only thing you need to dwell on.
© Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2004
Elisabeth K. Corcoran is the author of Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul. She is wife to Kevin, and mom to Sara, 7-&-1/2, and Jack, 5-&-11/12. Her passion is encouraging women and she fulfills that through heading up the Women's Ministries on staff at Blackberry Creek Community Church in Aurora, IL and writing as much as she can. "Calm in My Chaos" (2001) can be purchased directly through her publisher, Kregel Publications at #1-888-644-0500 or www.kregel.com, at www.amazon.com, or through your local Christian bookstore. This column is original and not excerpted from her book