What to do when Regular Criticism Hurts

Friday, July 21, 2017

It has been said that to understand is to perceive patterns. I have recently observed some unique patterns in my life. Here’s what happens: someone tells me I am not good at something that I am very passionate about. I get my feelings hurt. I persist in that which I am passionate about and God, by His grace, promotes me for His purposes.

When I was a teenager, I was running for president of a state and national Christian youth organization in Brazil. Someone at my church told me I couldn’t possibly be good for such prestigious job. I got my feelings hurt but I kept doing what God called me to do. God allowed me to win to both elections and to use my talents for His purposes.

I was told at the end of an internship that I should change my career. It was hurtful to hear such words. I gave my all in that newsroom. I found stories their reporters were not looking for. I was able to help a charity get donations through one of my news articles. I took insult and anger from one of the editors on a regular basis. To hear that I was no good at my career of choice was very difficult but I thanked the gentleman for his feedback and went on with life. One year later, I went from that top 50 newspaper to working at a top 10 newspaper in the U.S. God, by His grace, elevated me for His glory and for His purpose. There was no doubt God wanted me at that newsroom: I was the only intern who did not have any connections that landed me there other than the Holy Ghost.

Do you see the pattern? Words of rejection are spoken. I understandably get my feelings hurt and God by His grace, gives me a character promotion.

I wish these were the only two time I’ve seen this pattern in my life. Being rejected during my college years set me on the path God intended for me. I was pursuing a career in Broadcast Journalism. I was told my accent was ‘too thick’ for someone could understand what I was saying. I was hurt because I gave my best effort to that career path. After I dried my tears, I pursued a double major which led me to many open doors in my career.

People still criticize the way I speak. I understand. My Brazilian friends can’t understand the fact that I’ve been speaking multiple languages (three to be exact) for the past 19 years. My English only speaking friends can’t understand certain words I speak. I think about the pattern I’ve been experiencing for such a long time. I also remember that God can use what I have and He can promote my character for His purposes. I’ve heard He can use people who don’t speak very well (hello Moses!) so I ought to be in good company.

Being criticized does not mean that I am ignorant of the lessons behind those words. I have also learned to hear the unspoken tones of criticism. Insecurity often hides behind critical words. Frustrated hearts often speak criticism fluently. All criticism is meant to mature my character. I do find it important to focus my attention on the Author and Finisher of my faith, God, who called me to serve Him with abundant joy.

One thing is for sure: I cannot let criticism stop me from persevering.

Some areas of my life get more criticised than others. I am okay with that. I have learned to forgive the person who criticises me out of anger, jealousy or simply to try to destroy me. I also have learned to remember that pattern: criticism is followed by hurt which is followed by perseverance which often ends in character promotion.

Following this pattern is not easy. I was faced with it this week - ouch. I quickly forgave the offender and I decided that I certainly didn’t put myself in the position I stand. On a side note, if you only knew how many times my honest conversations with God includes the phrase “I didn’t ask for this!” you’d be amazed.

What I am keeping in mind is that this pattern requires me to surrender to God’s ways and to trust Him with the results. I don’t get a ‘job’ promotion every time but if I follow His ways, I get a character promotion.

Friend, people will criticize you for what you do well. I understand it hurts. Please keep doing what you are called to do and welcome the character promotion God is giving you through this difficult part of the journey.

You are a treasure.