Thursday, December 10, 2009

Defining Character- Accepting Criticism

I got a comment on one of my last blog posts criticizing me for my spending habits and how I slammed those who send picture Christmas cards. It really bothered me. I was angry and shocked and didn’t know how to respond. It’s hard hearing criticism. The first reaction I often have is to defend myself. Even if I know what the other person is saying is true, I want to explain why I have fallen short of their expectations and give a long list of excuses to justify my behavior.

But that never gets me anywhere. I don’t want to use the word “sin” because that sounds so ugly and ultra-religious, but that is what it is. Every way I fall short in life can be traced back to sin (aka a deep seeded issue in myself that causes me to act destructively to myself and/or others). Call it what you want- sin, vice, problem, issue…it’s all the same. Confessing my sin is the first step to overcoming it.

What do I struggle with constantly?

Envy- This is the one that usually leads to overspending and self esteem issues. I see someone else with something shiny and new and I want to have it. I hear about a competition and I have to win it. I envy other people and I want other people to envy me. This is what leads to spending lots of time and money on my Christmas decorations. This is what makes me want to buy a new house. This is why I hate Victoria Secret models. This is part of the reason I hate picture Christmas cards- because I envy that person and their perfect little family. It’s an evil that creeps up on me everyday and I just have to shift my mind to think about things in a different way to shake that green eyed monster off my back.

Gluttony- I think about food a lot. I’m not just one of those people who can eat the same tasteless thing everyday. I have cravings and sometimes I like to indulge those cravings. When there is chocolate or cookies in the office, it is hard for me to say no. When I am craving a cheeseburger, even if I put it off for weeks, I will eventually cave and have to get one. I've wasted a whole lunch hour before because I just couldn't decide what to eat. I let food control me sometimes instead of me having control over the food. It’s a blessing and curse- this wonderful tasting food. And it’s one of the hardest things to overcome because you have to eat to live, so why not enjoy it? It’s all about finding a balance and it's a constant challenge for me.

Sloth- I am lazy. I hate to clean. I put off exercising. I get distracted easily. When I get home from work (especially in the winter) I just want to cuddle up on the couch and watch mindless TV sometimes. I have spent entire Saturdays in my PJs never leaving the house. I try to overcome this with lists (like my 30 Before 30) because that motivates me. But that doesn’t stop me from procrastinating either.

As to what the next steps are in overcoming these things, I really can’t say for certain. I know that I need God’s help and it isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The good thing is that we are all in this together. Everyone has something they struggle with. No one is perfect and if you think you are, then you are in denial. You may not have the same struggles I do, but everyone falls short in some way. Realizing that is what helps keep me humble and understanding of others. All I ask for is the same forgiveness and understanding from others.

But I have to remind myself understanding and forgiveness is not acceptance. I can’t just confess my sins and then keep on doing them and never change. Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It would be like a murderer who confesses, asks for forgiveness, but then goes out and does it again. It’s an extreme example, but it’s basically the same thing. I can't just accept my shortcomings and expect others to as well.

So even though it’s not easy to hear, I am thankful for the criticism. It’s like medicine on a cut- it stings, but in the end, it helps.


AnnQ said...

What a fabulous, fabulous post. If people are being truthful, EVERYONE has struggled with ALL of those sins at some point in our lives! NOBODY is perfect.

And I really dislike when people cast that first proverbial stone. As if they're so lily-white and have never made mistakes.

Personally, I find the strongest people are the ones who admit they're fallible. Pretending is easy, 'fessing up is HARD.

AuntBT said...

Completely agree with AnnQ. The person that put you down for being human, is just mad because she can't overcome her issues as well.

You're doing great, and the fact that you're able to see that you struggle is a good thing. Most times we're not aware enough to see our shortcomings and work to better ourselves.

Jenn said...

Wow! I think you handled that very gracefully.
That being said, I LOATHE *using caplocks cause no italics* when people criticize you Anonymously. If you feel that strongly about something, sign your name to it. If you think you have a rightful opinion, then stand up for your beliefs! I like your blog because of the honesty and the relatability of it. I love reading it.
Sorry for the rant, but that really gets my goat!

Maureen said...

Hi there, I've been reading your blog for awhile now.
I just wanted to say, I am happy that you posted this today because, and it's what I like about your blog in general, it is so real. Thank you. We all have our faults and issues that we struggle with. You are just writing about your life and sometimes (in anonymous's opinion, not mine) they creep up. I'm sure if we all blogged about our lives the same would happen.
Don't let it get you down. And thanks for being so honest and posting this!

Caitlin said...

What a great and heartfelt post! I am so impressed that you were able to turn a negative into a positive in such a positive way!

Caitlin said...

What a great and heartfelt post! I am so impressed that you were able to turn a negative into a positive in such a positive way!

GinSpaghetti said...

Love this... thanks for that!

Jen the Beachbum said...

I loved this post! I think I struggle with the exact same issues as you do (maybe not for the same reasons). It is hard, but you are right just facing it is the first step. No one is ever going to be perfect and striving for perfection is a waste of energy. Trying to be the best you that you can be, that's what we should all be doing. :)

Sam said...

i'm guilty of all those things! great post :)

tootie said...

That's awful what that person wrote. (And shame on them for not having the courage to leave their name!) I think it was a generous (and not to mention creative!) idea to give the mix CDs, so don't let that person get you down!

:: Jenna :: said...


you never fail to surprise me! you turned a negative response into a real genuine positive answer and were extremely graceful yet real with it!

this is why many people envy you and more then likely the person who commented with such negativity in fact is one of those "jealous?" people who can't work through their own trials.

I always get people complimenting me at times and I think what for? I am just me! I have flaws, I get lazy, tired too etc...but they always assure me it's just for that reason they like me cause I do admit my flaws and usually the first to point them out!

when you are the first one to point out your own flaws, embrace them and look for the best way to fix or aid them what defense does that other person have? NONE!

so bravo hun! well done and stated!

oh btw....this world is based on materialistic views, and standards of perfection but guess what? even if we do reach perfection it's human nature to want more, and still later feel empty so why not enjoy life the best way you can right now? and if you reach that level of perfection and are happy then just cherish it and thank God.