What I Fear from Praise and Criticism

This sharing …

it is wonderful and enlarging and diminishing and terrifying.

What if I say something and misled? What if I offend? What if I am wrong?

What if I am a clanging cymbal that drowns out the deep quiet of His love?

It stops my heart with hope for the moment where you know his love, his welcome, his embrace.

And when I am complimented I feel this fear rise up and whisper – you won’t be able to sustain this, you’ll run out, your words will eventually expose your lack

and when I am challenged I feel this fear rise up and whisper – you think you know something and look you know nothing, you have offended, you have become a stumbling block to someone coming in, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting

And shouldn’t I recognise that whisper? Shouldn’t I know that giving up and giving in, and hiding in my shame and fear is a victory for the wrong side?

Hiding is always a loss – whatever the reason that drove me there.

Can I hear above the churning and the tightness – my grace is sufficient in weakness, perfection is not what makes you capable, I will never, never run out – there is always more of Me.

And I am suspended in a place of contradiction where I know I see in a mirror dimly and I will get it wrong and I am still learning but I am driven forward by this fierce desire to encourage, to be generous, to share it.

So I live with contradiction. Called to humility and generosity.

Giving it all while knowing I am so, so limited – this is the place of freedom – and I sing to myself it is well, it will be well.

I want to be both careful and careless – to know I am limited, to live with abundance.

Whatever the whisper that shuts you down 
– praise or criticism, the response or the silence, accolades or rejection – 
may you know how to still your heart beyond the cheers or the jeers and hear the Voice that calls you out on the water 
and may you risk it all and toss your feet over the side of the boat and fix your eyes on the face of the faithful One who calls you.

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