“Praise and criticism go down the same drain.” Betty H.
I cut my own hair and kept its natural color ever since I grayed early and changed to a short hairstyle. No one cut it like I wanted, so I gave up on finding a stylist and bought a set of clippers. I’ve never colored because I imagined it turning the shade of a carrot.
Family, friends, and strangers who have loved my short gray hair have made the style and color easy for me to love as well. Praise has been nice to hear.
If anyone’s disliked it, they’ve kept it to themselves. That was, until The Woman struck up a conversation with my friend and me. We were at a mutual friend’s house for a get-together. The Woman talked about finding someone to style her hair the way she liked it. We both complimented her cut and color just before she looked at me and said, “I’m relieved I found her because I wouldn’t be caught dead leaving my house with gray hair.”
It was one of those moments I wished I was as bold as Joy in Shadowlands, a movie about C.S. Lewis. When Lewis’ friend criticized, Joy turned to him and asked, “Are you trying to be offensive, or merely stupid?”
Since I’m not so outspoken (yet), criticism’s left me shaken for days. It’d send me reeling and questioning more than my hair color. Why doesn’t she like me? What’d I do to bring on that kind of reaction? How can I let go of replaying the scene again and again?
I glanced in a mirror over the dining room table where we were standing near the food. No urge came over me to dip my head in a dye bottle or bolt out of the party, so I figured I’d let her criticism go down the drain.
Still, there’s much work to do when I come up against praise and criticism. Publishing a book is a goal of mine, and a “different animal” from writing articles and blog posts. I’ve read Amazon book reviews that’d make a crybaby out of Bruce Lee. Similarly, I’ve obsessively checked on here for encouraging comments even though I don’t want them to be the reason I write. I’m sure God doesn’t want that either.
Maybe I’ll tattoo Betty’s praise and criticism quote on my eyeballs. Or maybe I’ll just skip reading other people’s opinions since I can get caught up in either one – praise or criticism.
I admired how well Chuck Murphy, our former rector at The Abbey, handled praise and criticism. I wondered how he’d come to the place his friend described, “He had little use for the praise of men, but wanted it from heaven.”
Chuck set an example of caring what God, not people, thought about his actions, some of which were controversial. He didn’t solicit praise from people, nor did he spend much time praising them. He saved that for God. He also didn’t criticize. He stated scripture and facts and observations.
My friend Betty encouraged me away from caring so much about what others thought of me. She shared quotes like the one at the beginning of this blog post, as well as this one, “Ten percent of people will like you no matter what. Ten percent will dislike you no matter what. The other 80 percent aren’t thinking anything about you.”
She also said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”
Her wisdom helped me get myself to the right size, important to some people, but not to all. She helped me keep people’s praise and criticism the right size too, so I wasn’t consumed with either one. Mostly, she reminded me to get God to the right (and bigger) size.
Praise encourages and inspires, but let 20 people praise us and one person criticize us and see which we focus on. Focusing on God and our purpose remedies that.
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” John Wooden
Why do we care so much what others think about us when it’s our calling that matters? Living our purpose gives us meaning beyond praise and criticism. Our purpose allows us to let praise and criticism go down the same drain, the place our lives would be if not for God’s opinion of us.
In This Together,
Disclaimer: Some facts have been changed to protect The Woman. #keepitkind