Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Everyone is a critic

A few weeks ago, I wrote and read a piece about infertility and loss for our Lenten series at church. The whole thing was, in a word, hard. I choked and softly cried as I read it and thankfully wiped my eyes with the Kleenex my Pastor handed me as he stood beside me at the front. It was something I did for the many many women sitting in the pews who have also struggled or lost, or both. And it was something I did because I still hold to the belief that to be "prolife" means we also mourn for the babies who are miscarried or stillborn. I shared my painful story in hopes that it would bring others some degree of comfort to know they were not alone, and also because I wanted to FREE people to talk about it. Miscarriage and infertility is the loneliest road I have ever walked. So I wrote and read from the very core of my being - words poured out of my heart.

And in the immediate aftermath, many people were so warm and loving and encouraging and sweet. I understood that some may have thought it was "inappropriate", though I feel their reasoning in that opinion is flawed. I understood that there were many who maybe could not talk to me about it because it was too painful for them. And that is perfectly fine with me. I didn't do the piece because I wanted special recognition. I didn't do it because I wanted attention. I didn't do it because I thought I was any better than anyone else. I did it because I love the child I lost, I love the people in my church, and most of all, because I love the God who is writing his story of grace in my life. And I am glad I did it.

But in the recent days, I have heard a few pieces of feedback that were less than positive. Some of them, very negative. And its been very hard on me - mostly because this was such a stick-your-neck-out experience. I wore my heart on my sleeve in a brutally honest way far beyond what I have ever done before. And you can bet it stings when the barbs of criticism of such a personal and painful story strike.

Its worth noting, none of the critics have had the guts to tell me to my face what they really thought. They have instead chosen cowardly gossip to spread their message of disapproval. Which is entirely their choice.

Sadly, I'm sure at one point or another in my life I have made the same one. As I sit here and think about how I'm trying to appropriately handle the hurt feelings, I begin to realize that I, too, have chosen a passive aggressive word of slander over silence. Oh how I wish I had chosen the silence.

Sometimes, silence is a weapon. We use it to send a message. We use it to harm. We use it to avoid comforting someone when we don't know what to say. Sometimes, silence brings great pain. And there are other times, when we should have chosen the silence. We should have borne the weight of our thoughts without ever speaking them. We should have just kept quiet.

I am undoubtedly guilty of both not speaking enough and speaking too little. God is teaching me that it is about my heart. If I hear something I don't like in church, can I love the person enough to be quiet. If I hear someone say something negative about my friend can I choose to let the hate die by not turning around and repeating it to her. If I disagree with someone can I accept they that are just different than me without condemning them in my heart. Can I choose to love even if it is very hard for me?

I can. Because He did. The cost was so great. The purchase so unworthy. If He can choose to love even when it brought such pain, how could I ever do any less? I choose love.


shartson said...

Jean~I am so sorry you had to hear words of criticism. There is such a fine line between being critical and being hurtful. It was so worth it for me to hear those words you spoke. After so many years I still do not forget the pain I went through with our first, second, and third loss. God definitely used it for His glory. I'm sorry some people may not have seen it that way.

shartson said...
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Miz Jean said...

Thanks Sarah. I ache so for all my many friends who have experienced loss. Not one of them should have to hide their pain!

Sherri said...

I thought it was beautiful and I am one who is thankful that you were willing to share your great story. I would encourage you to continue to open up even if others choose to be critical. You have many talents and I love everything you do! I say ...who cares...I say... go for it...I say...shrug it off....YOUR WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL!