The Enemy's Distraction
The dialogue from earlier in the day continued to loop in my head, like an annoying song on replay. What he said. What she said. Then, what a third, uninvolved party said. It was a negative comment left on social media about our business. A business that we had worked long and hard to open. And it was still in its first year of operation. It felt like there should be a grace period for such things. Yet a part of me knew better, because consumers are entitled to their opinions.
I had difficulty concentrating and felt myself pulled away by the memory of it. The overwhelming concern about how the comment may negatively effect business couldn't be shaken. Plus, I had reacted with a short fuse towards my loved ones, as a result. Sleep eluded me that night as I stared into the darkness, putting myself on trial in the courtroom of my anxious thoughts. Had I responded in the right way? Did I say too much or not enough? Should I have responded at all?
The critical comment happened in the midst of a good and uneventful day. It snuck up on me when I least expected it, blindsiding me, as these things have a way of doing. My heart began to pound within my chest as I stared at the words on the screen. Was this really happening? Was someone really criticizing the work God had called us to? Criticism can be our best friend or our worst enemy, depending on who delivers it, and how we perceive it. But on this occasion, it felt harsh, unfair, and unwelcome. My response to the comment, I would later learn, rose from a place of defending the people I love, that were also involved. It felt like the right thing in the moment. Yet later I scrutinized myself about whether my response was justified or correct.
As time passed, my emotions began to calm, and my thoughts became more clear. By realizing that I was giving my time and energy to something that wasn’t deserving, I was unintentionally giving less of myself to the people and activities that really mattered. It’s one thing to be given criticism from someone who has my best interest at heart; who genuinely wants to be helpful. In those instances, I have learned it's important to be receptive, and to see it as an opportunity to help identify a blind spot and grow.
The struggle really happens when I allow criticism from someone who does not have my best interest at heart. Often those people are being critical just for the sake of doing so. I do believe that even in those instances, there is wisdom in examining what was said and potentially applying it where needed. But there is also wisdom in not taking it to heart. In not allowing myself to be so consumed by it to the point that I stop pursuing my call to God's Kingdom work.