13. Criticism's Antidote – Life Out Here
After it happened, I began to lecture myself on all the ways I could have better prepared for such a moment.
“How could this have been easier?” is the question I posed. I thought through all I’d failed to do that morning.
I hadn’t showered.
Hadn’t cleaned-up from breakfast.
As for my quiet time. Well, I was gracious enough to not go there.
I might have limited my “on-the-line” time that morning. Even on days when I’m showered and ready to go, fielding phone calls around Abigail and Izaak is a skill akin to coasting to the gas station on fumes.
Maybe coasting on fumes is just parenthood, period.
I stopped my lecture to laugh again. It had been hilarious actually, and we had survived. And even the best preparation cannot prevent the dreadful sound of a diaper detaching.
Izaak was sporting only a diaper. He’d been stripped of his breakfast attire, which smelled of maple syrup and felt gritty from all the pancake crumbs now stuck to the fabric. He’d been pooping. Maybe it’s hope, not greed, that keeps gamblers like me always giving it one more shot. Pushing my luck.
Knowing better, I decided to address the poopy situation after catching up with my mom.
“Mom, he pooped and he took off his diaper and he’s walking around!”
I remember tossing the phone to the couch and thanking God the carpet was absent of debris. I remember laughing as I snatched up the resistant culprit, relied on my apprehensive assistant, and managed to clean the baby. And the carpet. Just to be sure. All without spreading the mess or losing my temper.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:22
Nothing crushes the spirit quite like critique.
Critique from strangers is dismissible; critique from loved ones is painful; critique from yourself is the worst kind. Because strangers and loved ones alike only see in part what we see in full; we credit our inner critic – who, unlike the other critics, is always available – with spot-on accuracy. And why debate what must be true?
Such resignation allows our inner critic to hijack our self-talk, and when was the last time you stopped to evaluate the nature your self-talk? Are you nice to yourself? Are you crushing your own spirit without even knowing it?
After the incident, my default reaction was to chastise myself.
But, I am learning. Through God’s grace, I am learning to stop and evaluate the way I treat myself, to take note of the way I react in the midst of stress.
And I’m learning that often God’s mercy shows up in the form of laughter.
Friend, when God’s mercy shows up, take it for the good medicine it is. It’s the best antidote to your least helpful form of criticism and keeps the self-talk life-giving.
What’s the nature of your self-talk? Is it life-giving or spirit-crushing? Moving forward, how can you keep better track of your self-talk, and how you replace negativity with life-giving truth?