Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth,… (Isaiah 54:4)
Why is it that we can get 50 compliments, but still only focus on the one criticism? It takes courage to put yourself out there. It also takes determination to try, struggle, fail and succeed, over and over again, while under the watchful eye of others. I believe most people never get their life off the ground because the one criticism was so loud, it drowned out the 50 compliments.
Sadly, some people never get the opportunity to even fail. When I was a sophomore in high school, I knew a girl who made all the wrong decisions. I really liked her, and I believe she liked me, but suddenly she chose to go out with a 20-something guy who abused her. About a year and a half later, I heard she had been abused long before the poor choice in boy/man-friend. Her life had been destroyed far too young and she was left without the benefit of compliments. On and off, throughout my life, I’ve prayed for her, not knowing – and fearing – how her life played out.
It is incumbent upon all people of faith to nurture and protect those around us, especially our children. We’ve been taught that pride is such an evil that we’ve not given people the tools for a proper sense of self. Far too often we’ve taught our children humility and it has looked too much like humiliation. In the process, we are unable to appreciate our compliments, and obsess on our criticism. You are invaluable as a child of God, and worthy of God’s attention and care.
Today, begin by praying for your own struggles with success and failure. Ask God to see yourself as God sees you. For most of us, arrogance is not as big an obstacle as shame. Then, pray for those in your life and in your history, who were not given the opportunity to find compliments in their lives. Pray for God to lift them up, for they too are children of the living God. Finally, don’t just pray, think about how you can practice accepting compliments and cherishing them in your heart, while also hearing criticisms and learning from them, without obsessing on them. The more we are able to address compliments and criticisms, the more we are healthy enough to fulfill God’s Divine call for our lives.