One in Fifty
I expected to recycle or update another old post as I prepare for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, but something happened this week that begged to be pondered and blogged about.
On Monday, a devotion I’d written went live on the publisher’s website, along with a short blog post. I woke up to comments on my personal blog from readers who’d enjoyed the devotional reading and decided to check out my website, and a long string of comments on the meditation itself. The blog post I’d contributed also had some nice messages. It was so much fun! What a way to start the week. I felt like I’d just made a bunch of new friends, especially when I got to be part of a prayer request exchange. I even met a woman who shares my vision problem.
Then I checked the comment string again later in the day to see if I should reply to anyone else, and I saw one that wasn’t nearly as encouraging as the others. In fact, it was very discouraging. I felt completely misunderstood.
I wanted so badly to defend myself—to tell this person that if he knew me he wouldn’t have interpreted my message the way he did. But for authors that’s considered bad manners, and I’ve never been one to call people out publically even if they do it to me. I’m not calling him out here either. I’m using it as an opportunity to examine why I allowed one unkind remark in more than fifty to get to me.
I had to mentally grab myself by the shoulders and say, “Stop it! Do not let one paragraph ruin a good day. That devotion encouraged friends and strangers, literally all over the world. Let. It. Go. This happens to authors all the time.”
Why is it that we can receive scores of compliments, and one criticism still throws us off balance?
Why is it that when a random person judges us, we can’t immediately tell ourselves, “Okay, clearly, he missed the point” and slough it off?
When a critic doesn’t even know us, shouldn’t that disqualify their negativity from setting up camp in our hearts?
If only it were that easy.
I think I needed this lesson before heading off to teach at Mount Hermon, where some registrants will love my workshop (hopefully!) and some might be disappointed in it. As a friend told me a few years ago after I received an angry e-mail from a woman I’d tried to serve, “You can’t make everyone happy.”
On Day 1 of my workshop, one of my points is the importance of developing a thick skin when it comes to rejection and feedback, because at some point we will get a bad review, or have something unkind said to or about us online. Now I have a recently personal example to include. (The story about stumbling upon a scathing 1-star review of my first book was getting old.)
Not everyone is going to get us or love us.
But I want so badly for everyone to! I never want to offend, disappoint, or give someone a reason to challenge me, in writing or in life.
In other words, I want the impossible. The more I write, teach, open up, and learn to be honest, the more often I will fail to meet an expectation, be misunderstood, or step on an already bruised toe without meaning to.Not everyone is going to get us or love us. Click To Tweet
So I’m learning to not let the one be more powerful than the fifty. Because when I do that, I stop being authentic.
I’m trying to remember that the One I write for had critics. And they were a lot meaner than the guy who challenged the content of my devotion. That didn’t keep Him from accomplishing God’s purpose.
How do you respond to criticism or negative feedback? What are you learning as you try to focus on those who appreciate what you have to offer instead of the few who don’t? How has being misunderstood changed how you respond to others?