I have learned to take critique. Thank you, Word Weavers. I have actually gotten to the place with my writing that I seek out the input of others to make me a better writer.
Sadly, this openness to input and constructive criticism had not reached other parts of my life.
Not long ago, the chairman of the commission I’m directly responsible to informed me that I need to cut back on the length of my sermons, and stick to my manuscript so that I don’t get off topic so much.
I love preaching. And I was under the impression after only glowing comments for the past four and a half years that the congregation was pleased with my style and delivery. I make a point of watching the crowd and thought I was reading them well.
I began to feel like I used to when I got job evaluations. The whole eval could be positive, but if there was one point where I perceived I received a negative “grade” that’s all I could focus on. And I always took it personally. That’s what coming from a shame-based family will do for you—at least it did for me.
I complied. I became a clock watcher. I finished in time for the closing hymn—whether I was done or not. I stopped short of saying, “Well, I can see we’re out of time…” I read the manuscript and held onto the sides of the pulpit to avoid walking away from the script and getting lost in my illustrations.
And I went home and cried every Sunday. And I sought solace in food.
Finally, this last week, my husband said, “Enough.” He went on to describe the disturbing depth of my funk, suggested a few options, and instructed me to pull out of my head.
In case I’ve never mentioned it here…I really appreciate this guy.
Then on Monday I pulled up several posts from my dear friend, Debby Berry. She’s going through a really tough time and is blogging some really powerful stuff. I plugged into her posts on Philippians 4:8 and what we need to be feeding our mind.
And a light came on in my brain. And it continued to shine brighter and brighter as I got ready for a bike ride. I remembered one of my favorite stories.
A long time ago, I read about a couple little kids who were going to ride their bikes. One kid showed up wearing his helmet. The other kid didn’t and he started teasing his buddy about his “baby hat.” The helmet wearer responded by asking why his friend’s parents didn’t make him wear one. His buddy had no answer. Helmet boy, shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I guess my mom loves my brain more than yours does.”
And I heard the sweet whisper of God: I love your brain. We need to work on your thinking.
Couldn’t argue with that.
So I put the bike on the rack and headed toward my favorite trail.
Half way down the road (flying down the interstate) I realized I forgot my helmet. I don’t ride without my helmet. Well, that’s not exactly true. This summer I got all the way (21 miles from home) to the trail and realized I’d left my helmet by the door. I opted to ride anyway, but the guilt each time I passed a child on their bike, riding with their parents, and wisely wearing their helmets, was huge. I kept wanting to shout an apology: “I’m sorry. I know I’m being a horrible example. Keep wearing those helmets kids!”
Right then, I decided I was stopping in at the bike shop near trail before I started my ride. I was hoping they rented helmets, or I’d be buying a new one. I got there at 9:40 and they didn’t open til 10. Wait? Absolutely.
When the door was unlocked, I went in and explained my dilemma and need to the owner who promptly handed me a helmet and told there was no charge.
And I heard that sweet whisper again: I love your brain. Ready to think better?
My favorite thing about riding is how close I feel to God as I pedal away. I found that to be especially true on this ride. I left my funk somewhere out on the trail. I came up with several creative options to my preaching critique—that’s what critique should do. Now we’ll implement them and see what works.
In case you haven’t been told lately, God loves your brain too! Be careful what you feed it.