Criticism is not fun even if it is constructive. I consider criticism a statement of failure and condemnation, being judged unfairly and not measuring up to someone’s standard. It kept me angry. Synonyms for criticism vary from censure to review, assessment to appraisal. There can be negative or positive results.
Can there be rewards for constructive criticism? Should I be open to grow and be transformed into a better version of myself while I am feeling chipped away? Is there any truth to the criticism? Is this a healthy relationship?
I pondered, should I allow myself to be whittled like a dry tree branch? I have always been fascinated by people who can take a piece of driftwood or an old part of a tree and create something one of a kind, beautiful. They are able to see the beauty underneath the surface. Think about it, our God sees us the same way!!!
On the outside the scrap driftwood appears to be dry and useless as it holds no life. It has been broken away from the main tree trunk. There are no longer pathways of sap to provide sustenance and energy. Maybe it has been floating in a river or ocean quite a while becoming further withered.
Do you ever feel like driftwood? Floating along, perhaps feeling alone, lost, distracted? The Master Craftsman could be waiting for you to float onto the shore and be ready for new things. If we ponder, the tools needed for this transformation we may use: Stillness with God, the Bible and humbly allow the cutting away of sin, forgiving ourselves, repenting and asking God for a new beginning. We must choose to let him carve away the dry.
A wood carvers tools of the trade may be straight chisel, wood carving gouge or whittling knives each serving a specific purpose. A knife cuts away at the unnecessary layers of dead wood. It digs away layers slowly from the outside in. Could that be a chronic sin such as telling little white lies so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings instead of being truthful?
Proverbs 27 :5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love!
The gouge may allow the craftsman to gather the dry parts quicker, yet with care and patience the carver is hopeful not to gather too quickly. The gouge may be the deep consequence of returning to angry outbursts instead of listening intentionally.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
The chisel removes debris closer to the surface. It’s a skimmer of sorts. Perhaps an example of this in humans may be, the gentle rebuke from a parent, ” Hey, do you want to try that response again? Deep breath and we can talk more.” or ” Forgive me!”
Proverbs 26 :28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
Corrie ten Boom was such a humble example of Christ, she gained more self-control as she was in the trial. Her quotes from her time in a concentration camp are found on the internet and in her book, “The Hiding Place,” a biography from World War 2. She witnessed the oppression of Jewish community including her friends. She, along with her family, chose not to stick with the status quo and many lives were saved by not turning a blind eye to the atrocities on their fellow country man.
The world is better for women such as Corrie and their example of putting to practice the words of scripture. I do not know if I could have forgiven those who committed evil. I would pray that I would choose the wisdom of God were I in her shoes.
One of my favorite quotations from Corrie ten Boom: Our critics are the unpaid guardians of our souls.
What a timeless quote for daily mediation. I think honest critical comments can help us grow into who the Lord already knows we can become. There is a difference between constructive, loving communication and criticism that is meant to devour another person. Loving communication must start with words of affirmation, truth and love.
James 3: 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
James3:6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
The enemy wants us to switch gears in our minds and use our tongues to sear in fire those created in the image of God.
We must seek truth in Christ, be bold in speech and allow Him to grow our faith and bless our lives.
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.
I need to allow the dry places in my soul to be touched and sharpened by those who can help me grow. However, I am not open to be devoured by another whose intention is destruction. I pray for discernment of the Holy Spirit.
Choose wisely who we trust with wisdom. God first, of course, then friends who want to reflect Him to the world, like Corrie. May be the unpaid guardians of our soul need to be given thanks. Let God, the Master Craftsman, cut away the dry places and bring out the beauty just as driftwood!
Proverbs 27 :17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.