The (Hypo) Critic Within

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

I like to think of myself as a writer.

And that’s a problem.

I spend a lot more time thinking about writing than actually writing.  I get an idea, mull it over, often even start typing out the words.

And then… up he jumps.  He starts reading my words, trashing my ideas, casting doubt on my God-given abilities.

My inner critic is a real horse’s posterior.  He is equal parts Roger Ebert (after sitting through a film festival of his most despised movies) and Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” character from SNL.  He inevitably shows up at just the right / wrong time, and starts trashing my work.  Destructive criticism at its finest.

Then, if I do manage to write something and sent it out into the cyber abyss, and it only garners about a dozen reads… well, the critic has a field day.  Even worse when it is followed by a hope rising article that gets a two or three hundred hits.  “See?  You suck.  Why bother?  Who wants to read what you write?  You’re helping no one.  Oh, and even though she lives several hundred miles away, your mother dresses you funny.”

Harsh?  Darn skippy.

I tried to silence this inner bully, but to no avail.  I went to counseling and was assured repeatedly that this – as well as every other problem I had – was really my mom and dad’s fault.  Which is nice, in a way, seeing that I no longer need to worry about personal responsibility.

But one day I realized something.  I had set a false set of expectations for myself.  Over years of church involvement, I had learned that there was a set of religious parameters to which a Christian is supposed to conform.  You need to look a certain way, talk a certain way, have certain expectations of what God will (or will not) do, give a certain amount… Do not deviate from the corporate line.

The problem was that I had been trying to conform, talk the talk, shove my large square frame (actually more the shape of a pear that had been overexposed to radiation, but I digress…) into a very narrow, corporately hewn cross-shaped hole.

And it didn’t work. I simply didn’t fit.

To sit here and tell you that church is my problem would be wrong.  To place the blame for my issues on anyone else – even Mom and Dad (sorry, counselors) – would be hypocritical and immature.  (Besides, I have a seven year old son.  I don’t need to sow any bad juju that I may end up reaping when he grows up.)

The answer is to realize who God says I am.  When God creates people, He does not use a cookie cutter.  He forms us each uniquely.  He knows us intimately.  He does not expect conformity beyond what His Word calls for.  And, while we are called to take an honest assessment of ourselves and to discern our surroundings, God explicitly tells us not to live to please others or be judgmental.  We are free to be who God created each of us to be!

Today, the critic is still there.  As a matter of fact, he’s been messing with me this morning as I wrote this piece.  “Your going to tick people off!  You’re going to alienate your Christian friends!  They’re going to turn on you!”  The truth is, my Christian friends – the ones who truly care – know me.  They know I am unconventional.  They see who I am and love me anyway.  And I hope they know how much I love and treasure all of them.

So take that, Inner Critic.  I choose to be who God created me to be.  I choose to express myself with the voice the Lord has given me.  I will honor God by following the path He has placed me on, without concern for the results.  I trust Christ.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.

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