It felt ugly and sent me into several days of discouragement. A verbal attack — probably not intentional. But to be my authentic self, I must admit it hurt.
The words questioned my blogging skills, criticized word count and focus, suggested that another direction would be more effective, violated several of the blogging rules I espouse.
Constructive criticism? Possibly. But spoken without any encouragement or positive phrases. The confrontive words, “You need to…” at the beginning of each sentence.
Worse — the attack was not written where I could ponder each word and form my response. But verbal and quick so I had no time to recover and respond. Not even a chance to defend myself.
So I texted my son, “Pray for me. I need a hug.”
“Certainly,” came his immediate reply. He invited me to eat with him at Cracker Barrel that evening — the obvious place for comfort food. Fried apples. Hashbrown casserole. Thick meatloaf dripping with warm catsup.
I reviewed what had happened that day. Sometimes just verbalizing an experience helps us work through it. To find some point of learning in the criticism, some intent in the phrasing. And some sense of what to do about the situation.
Then I spent an hour with my journal, writing it out. Because that is how I process the experiences of my life — in the written word. The same format that brought the attack.
Two more days passed as I processed what had been said. Thought more about it. Prayed for wisdom in how to respond, how to learn from it. Nothing would change the fact that it happened.
But how should I react, as a writer who is also a Jesus follower? A writer who hopes my words and phrases inspire and encourage? What direction should I take?
With more journaling and more inward scrutiny, I discovered an ugly seed hiding within the heart of my passionate words. Pride whispered, “You’ve been blogging for years. You’ve taught other writers how to blog, and you know all the tools and techniques. You teach at writers conferences, and you have 2000+ followers on your blog, for cryin’ out loud! How dare this person attack you when you have such credibility?”
In the posture of the repentant, I knelt by my bed and honestly confronted the source. “I don’t like this hurt, God, but I admit the pride that has been wounded. I confess that sour germ to you and ask that you help me not to let it fester or cause bitterness. I do not want to be ugly back to this person. I want to learn how to be a better writer, to continue to inspire and encourage as well as inform. I admit the pain, but I want to learn from it.”
Confession does not automatically heal a wound. But it sets us in the right direction for purity of heart and growth of the soul.
“The pure in heart shall see God.” The ultimate on my bucket list.
So as I write and obey this directive, I focus on the hope that pours from my passion. I vow to not run from the truth but to delete the pride that deceives and confuses.
Hopefully, the words that erupt will then be more acceptable — in the marketplace and in my soul.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For an authentic look at Alzheimer’s from the heart of a fictional character, check out Reverend G Meets the Memory Thief.