Discern with God.
While critique is painful, it can become an opportunity to heal the messages we heard as girls (or the things we didn’t hear), the ways we’ve been dismissed or stereotyped. Every case of criticism becomes a chance to distinguish between what others say about us and how God sees us. It also becomes a chance to pay attention to the ways we critique ourselves constantly. (Maybe it’s hard to hear these things from others because they add to the criticisms we routinely say to ourselves?) Stand before the Lord and say, “What would you have me learn? How would you have me grow?” and know this is a work to allow God to do in you, not a work to do for God.
When all the opinions about us swirl in our head and mess with our own fears of who we are, the only true clarity comes from trusting that God is the only one who truly understands us, that God can help us discern what messages are true, that God’s correction is kind and for our good and the good of our calling. What if God wants to take the pain of these moments and transform our hearts so that we’ll be free to see ourselves and others as God sees? What if instead of making us perfect in the world’s eyes, God wants to use these moments to make us more like Jesus?
Mandy Smith is lead pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and author of The Vulnerable Pastor.