Monday, March 31, 2014

For what it's worth

I've often heard the advice that you should sandwich every criticism between two praises.  I always assumed that it was to make the criticism easier to swallow.  But there is so much more than that.

One of the lessons my children and I have been talking about a lot lately has been treating everyone we come in contact with as Jesus would.  Being the hands and feet of Jesus.

The thing is, when we are hit in the face with a criticism, it affects our every being.  It has the potential to affect the way we think and act for the rest of the day.  If affects the way we treat other people.  And ultimately, it affects our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus like we're called to be.

I dealt with just recently.  I was hit with a hurtful criticism from a family member, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it stopped me in my tracks.  I allowed it to negatively affect my attitude for the remainder of the day.  I found myself even having to apologize to my kids for losing my temper with them, something that rarely happens anymore.

Why do I share all this with you?  Because I want you to learn from my mistake.  By the end of the day I realized something.  While the world, and often the people in it, will constantly hit us with criticism and hurt, we do not have to allow it to define us.

God loves us so much that He wants to wrap us in His love and grace and mercy.  And that is what we need to fall back on, to run home to whenever we're faced with criticisms and hurt.  My mistake was that I waited too long to turn to the one that I know loves me unconditionally.  Had I gone to Him first, I could have likely saved myself the ugly and grumpy and negative that I stewed in all day.  Instead I could have taken that criticism for what it was, one negative wrapped in the many positives I know and moved on.

Check out this verse that was in my email inbox that morning:
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. ~ Hebrews 4:16
God was giving me a positive before the criticism and I didn't even recognize it.  I didn't even see it until later in the day.  I guess He was offering it as a positive before and after the criticism.

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