Frozen By Criticism

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I have fallen off the blogging wagon hard, my friends. I never wanted to be the blogger who let weeks pass without blogging. I am not lazy or unmotivated. I have read all the wonderful “how to have a great blog” articles.  I follow Tentblogger and Michael Hyatt for the Pete’s sake! What more could a blogger need, really?!

I know how important it is to stay in touch with readers.  I love staying in touch with readers!  So what’s the problem?

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that some changes on WordPress have thrown me for a loop and I’ve accidentally published random empty posts while on the learning curve. (In fact, that very thing just happened a few minutes ago while I was trying to write this post so… sorry about that.) But that’s not why I got stuck.

Did I run out of ideas? No.  Definitely not. I’ve written numerous posts and saved them without ever publishing them.

Did I run out of time?  Nope.  I’m a busy person and that hasn’t changed for years. But I had time to do lots of other things I love during the past few months — everything but blogging!

Did I lose interest?  Not at all.  Blogging remains such a wonderful, rewarding way to reach out to people. I love it!

So what, then?  You want me to be 100% truthful with you?  (Don’t answer that, of course I know you do.)

The harsh truth is, I got a couple responses sent to me during the past few months that really froze me in my tracks. Not everyone agrees with everything I write, apparently!  And they don’t mind sending me messages about it. I know, expect and respect that – or I say I do – but when it happened, I got stuck. I like to avoid criticism! Don’t you?

Someone I highly respect (who has WAY more readers than I have) once told me  a person can almost always learn something from criticism, whether or not it was communicated well.  He says behind most criticism is a grain of truth. So, assuming that advice is correct, I began to question myself.  I second-guessed every post that I tried to write. And somehow I managed to talk myself out of every single blog post for two months!  And while my dear friend has a great point, it was easier for me to just stop writing than to consider what I could learn from those (few, fairly benign) criticisms.

Today I can’t solve it all.  But I can say that I am choosing to blog anyway. I’m admitting that my skin is not as thick as I’d like it to be and I am breaking the no-blogging streak with this confession that I temporarily hit a wall, but I am climbing over it. I have decided that, for me, blogging is worth the effort.

I’ve struggled with exactly how to hurdle this  blogging angst because I truly do not want to keep anyone from responding honestly to future posts.  I want people from all walks of life to feel that this is a place where we can discuss life, faith and creativity in an atmosphere of openness and kindness.  I also understand there will be those who aren’t sure quite what to do with my point of view, and that’s just a reality of being around thinking people. It’s worth it. I’m confident of that fact.

Anyone else out there ever struggle with how to respond to criticism? Do you take your critics to heart or do you just move on and keep going?

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9 thoughts on “Frozen By Criticism

  1. Someone once said, if you get criticized, then you’re doing something right. Everyone will have an opinion, but at the end of the day it’s between your heart and God. Hang in there Emily. Keep on bloggin’!

  2. Sherryl

    Even at my age, which is pretty old . . . I am surprised by unkindness among people who call themselves believers. I think I can take criticism. I think you probably can, too. And I actually enjoy discussing differences of opinion – with someone who can stay civil – but I continue to be surprised by mean-spiritedness among people who say they know Jesus. You can disagree, you can point out what you believe to be faulty reasoning or misinterpetation of facts or even scripture. You can critique my writing style. Just don’t be sarcastic, condescending, or just plain mean. I hope that was not the case for you, Emily, but it sounds as though it may have been. Dust off your jeans, put your boots back on, and keep walking! There are many of us who enjoy your transparent journaling and your funny observations about everyday life. Press on!

  3. Oh honey, I get it! The faceless communication of commenting puts people into a harshness that I have experienced too. Remember, there are those that choose to express their gifts and opinions and those that choose to criticize that courage. Always remember the camp you are in and share your gifts loud and proud honey. Loud and proud. Much love and hugs to you for jumping back in.

  4. Vicki

    I am not one to take criticism well, at least not the mean-spirited type..! I have been learning to bite my tongue (sometimes, if not always) by the Grace of God.
    Hang in there, Emily! We have much to learn from you, so don’t stop!
    Even when you aren’t saying something to learn from I love what you have to say – find it interesting, funny, thought provoking! You are so intelligent I’m honored to read anything you have to say, even if I don’t always agree.

  5. I once posted a super-heartfelt blog in which I posted a reference to a Christian artist’s song and I also posted a link to Youtube so readers could hear the song if they didn’t know it. I received a well intentioned email from someone who told me I needed to be careful of who claims to be a Christian because if I’d considered it more carefully, I’d know that Jesus would not be pleased with the artist’s choice of wardrobe because it was immodest. She went on to say I wouldn’t want Jesus to see me dressed like that. I looked down at the hoochie mama workout shorts and tank top I was wearing (I’d just come in from a run on a hot day) and felt sick. Not because I felt like my outfit was bad but rather because she’d judged me (and the artist) and totally missed the point of the post – ENTIRELY. I admit that every single post I write now is run through the filter of “what would she think?” before I post it and I know there have been some times I’ve watered down what I really think JESUS would have preferred I said because I’m so afraid she’s keeping some tally over to the side.

    Having said that…I love your posts and have missed them.

  6. Laura

    Okay sis…you know I’ve become very familiar with criticism these past few months. What I have learned through my situation are those that criticize are taking out their anger, frustration, and problems on everyone except who they should be focusing it on…themselves. I’ve had a very difficult time coming to terms with being criticized about how I’m handling the grief of Gayle. Through much grief counseling, prayers and some fantastic readings I’ve learned that God has a reason for putting these issues in our lives. It’s to make us stronger and more determined to forge ahead with his plan for our lives. I just read a devotional by Joyce Meyer that says “Knowing who we are in Christ sets us free from the need to impress others.”

  7. Tasha Simons

    Anyone else out there ever struggle with how to respond to criticism? Do you take your critics to heart or do you just move on and keep going?

    I used to really fear criticism. It was tied to a need for approval and a deep fear of rejection. I remember talking to someone about it and he told me to expect criticism. Embrace it. It’s inevitable and someone will always criticize you for something. Somewhere along the way, I made peace with the fact that not everyone will like me just as I don’t like everyone myself. Some will respond negatively no matter my best intentions. Like you, my heart’s prayer has been to be teachable and humble instead of responding by withdrawal or self-protection. I’ve also learned to see it as a gift… kind of like the gift of pain. Nobody naturally wants to be criticized or to feel pain, but it is a catalyst for growth and I’ve grown the most when I have been hurt and had to seek God to heal the brokenness exposed. One last thought… “Reputation doesn’t matter when you know you belong to God.” A pastor said this in a sermon on God-centered living and it really stuck. When someone is critical of me, I usually spend time focusing on my identity in Christ and it helps me trust God when it comes to what others think of me.

    • Great insights! Thanks so much for chiming in! Glad to others are on this same journey of learning to make peace with criticism as a fact of life to be embraced rather than avoided. Love it.

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