Criticism and Compliments

I’ve been pondering again !  Maybe I should have named this blog  “Pondering Moments” . 🙂

Part of me avoids criticism like the plague.  I mean, who  really  wants it, right !? No one gets up in the morning and says, “I hope somebody stops by and gives me a bucket load of criticism today!”

I’ll be honest, when I first started this whole blog-writing-thing, I watched in eager anticipation for that first “comment” or “Like” or “share” but when the thought crossed my mind that someone might actually post a critical remark, I nearly went into a panic attack and considered  disabling the “comment” / “like” / “share” option  and removing all personal information that might in any way link ME to this post !  It’s safer that way, you know. Without any personal attachment I could freely write about all sorts of controversial issues  like wine and dancing and,  heaven forbid …card playing (you’d have to know my background to appreciate those last remarks) — and never worry what you thought about me because you wouldn’t actually know it was me in the first place.  That removes some of the personal hurts that can be attached to knowing you’ve either offended or ticked someone off  .  But I’m a big girl now — and big girls don’t cry, right??  (that was a joke,  for those of you who don’t know me well !)

But then there’s the flip side of this whole pondering moment.  While I would hate getting blasted for something I said or did (no one really likes that do they??),  I feel equally as uncomfortable with compliments or praise these days.   I mean, haven’t you ever wanted to just crawl under the chair during that awkward moment of recognition!!  What do you do with yourself?  Do you nod knowingly?  No — that might look prideful.  Do you bow your head in deep and humble acceptance?  Weird too !  Do you laugh it off and act like it was nothing?  Inappropriate laughter.  While it’s so nice to be valued and appreciated, it also is incredibly uncomfortable to feel like you’re in the spotlight.

And here’s the other side of this coin (wait !  coins only have two sides and I’m now turning these  thoughts into a whole roll of coins !) In the short time I’ve lived  on planet earth ,  it’s a bloomin’ mystery  to me how you can be given a huge compliment one day only to receive a sharp criticism the next day … from the same person.  So when I hear that compliment rolling out of someone’s mouth, I’m anxiously waiting for the other  shoe to drop next!

And that’s when I was reminded of a quote I had read a few years back — maybe from Beth Moore, a very well-known speaker and writer — saying, in essence,  to treat criticism and compliments equally.    I can’t get too bent out of shape about critical things spoken to me and I can’t get too amped up about compliments.  Getting too caught up in either can paralyze me from  actually stepping out and doing anything in life.  “Stay even!” , as my brother, John, so often said to me during my many mood swings in college.

If I dwell on criticism too much, I can get that “woe-is-me” martyr complex or fill all my conversations with me and my problems.  Side note here:  it’s hard for people to be friends with you when you’re the only one in the relationship!

However, if I dwell on compliments too much, I’ll be tempted to pride and self-promoting and, ironically, filling all my conversations with me again .  It’s interesting how either swing can come full circle right back around to “me-ism” if  I’m not careful.

Compliments can sometimes make you swell like a giant balloon– full of yourself and a lot of hot air — while  criticism can come in like daggers and pop your balloon, sending you spiraling out of control all over the place  until you crash to the floor …a flattened mess!

Therefore (don’t you love that firm- resolve- of- a- word !),  it seems to me that  if you treat them both equally, somehow you’ll find the real truth in the mix of it all.

The truth is, I need criticism to keep me alert to things I may need to change or sharpen.  (I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence.)  Criticism can open up a new perspective that I never even thought of before but really need to.

Thankfully, I’ve had some very constructive criticism along the way and I’m sure I’m better for it  ( but maybe you could send that to my e-mail address, eh ??) And just so you know, if you have a criticism creeping up ,  I don’t really respond well  to ranting and raving  so speak it in love …please!

However, I also need compliments in my life.  Who doesn’t want to hear that “well done” every now and then.  We all want to know that we’re making a difference in this wide world — or at least our little corner of it.    There’s nothing wrong with healthy, sincere praise — just keep it real  and try to be specific here and there.

I know this is going to sound “oh-so-spiritual” but I’m going to say it anyway…

I really want to make a big deal  of Jesus Christ.

When it’s all said and done, I want people to know Him much more than they know or remember me.    Without Jesus, there would be no “me” and there’s nothing good I’ve done that hasn’t been gifted down to me in the first place.  Any good in me is grace — trust me!

I pray that  the words I write on this page and live out in my life will be fueled by the Holy Spirit and pleasing to God …bringing  the joy of Jesus into your life as well …and  everything in between  …grace !

Related article :  Great read by Donald Miller on how healthy criticism has made him a better communicator  

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

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  1. smithjungle

    You’re braver than I am with my secret blog. 🙂

    1. smithjungle … If I write something too controversial , I know I can send it over to your blog then right?? 🙂

  2. Dianne Pace Hunt

    I do know what you are talking about! I came from the same background and now I am a pastor’s wife of a non-denomination church and lets just say my family does not always agree with me on some things. I do know tho that had it not been for your sweet brother Paul and his precious wife,Mary Jane who took an interest in me in my senior year of high school I would not be typing this today. It’s all about our relationship with Jesus not what denomination we are! I want to be like Paul and say ,”that I may know him” and thru knowing him people will see Jesus and it he will change their lives as he has mine.
    You are doing a great job on your blogging and it inspires me and encourages my heart. So my friend,keep on blogging! Love you!


    1. Thanks Dianne !!! Your words mean so much — I’ll pass this on to Paul and Mary Jane as well — It’s amazing how words spoken in our past can be so powerful for our future. Didn’t know you are a pastor’s wife !!! I’m thinking about writing about that too — since I’ve been one for 20 years now 🙂

      1. Dianne Hunt

        Daryl has been a pastor most of our married life. We have worked beside our Senior Pastor for 18 years now and the most amazing thing happen. Our pastor turned 71 this past January and he has always wanted to be in the military and a chaplain,so God gave him the desire of his heart by becoming chaplain at the Veterans Victory House in Walterboro .The requirements for the job was a masters degree and pastor only had a high school degree.So Daryl moved up to senior pastor when our pastor took that job! We have had some wonderful services to.Keep me in your prayers because I will definitely need them. I sing on our praise and worship team also love it!!! So that is my story for now.

  3. phyllis kramm

    joy- I just want to thank you for this way to minister to all who read.I am one who has knon you & your family & been blessed to have your father as my Pastor for yrs & What a blessing to have time with your mother.Just remember all of the people who are being blessed by your ministry here & please don”t stop because many who are helped my never post to let you you & all of your precious family.
    phyllis kramm

    1. Joy Martin

      May God Bless you Phyllis ! You’re such an encourager ! Thank you so much !

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