Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Sting of Criticism – by Heidi McLaughlin

The art instructor paced back and forth and glanced at my painting.  Each time she walked by I was thrilled and encouraged by what I accomplished in such a short time. I was amazed how just the right sculpted brush strokes could makes trees come alive and the reflection on water appear so brilliant.  By the third day in this art class my enthusiasm peaked as I saw my potential as an artist increasing by the moment. Then the instructor stopped at my easel and called the rest of the class to come over and stand around my painting. My cheeks were flushed with pride as I waited for her words of praise.

Like a needle thrusting a balloon, her words shattered my illusions of grandeur. “Class, this is what you do NOT do.” She then proceeded to destroy all my hard work and creativity that had flowed out of my spirit in the last three days. It was more than that. Instead of doing it with kindness in a private moment, she humiliated me in front of my peers and shattered my courage. She left me defeated, questioning my self-esteem and I wanting to quit.

A courageous resolution rose up in me and I went back the next day to try again. I was not going to let one woman’s opinion diminish my passion and creativity.  Yes, she had valuable comments but they were expressed with the intent to crush and not build up.  What I took away from that ghastly encounter actually improved my paintings and prepared me to have thicker skin for more criticism ahead.

As an international speaker and author, I have heard and experienced painful criticism.  When I put myself out there with my words, actions and opinions, they don’t always line up with other people’s expectations. To overcome these crippling offenses and embrace all that I know God has called me to do, I filter criticism this way:

  •  Who is saying it and what is their motive?  Is this coming from a place of wanting to help me or put me down?  Is it jealousy? Is it helpful? Do I respect that person’s opinion? 
  •  Most criticism holds value.  Even when I left a room in tears or felt I could never walk onto a platform again, I always learned something new about myself.
  • Criticism does not define me. I am God’s beloved and: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

·        If criticism is filtered in a healthy and productive way, it helps sharpen “iron on iron” and is part of the transformation process to make us more into the image of Jesus Christ.

The years following my painful art class experience, I tool several College courses and produced many beautiful pieces of art.  What I didn’t realize is that God was preparing my passion for creativity, beauty and meaning to make a difference in this world through writing and speaking to women all across the world.  Isn’t God’s plan always so wonderful and perfect?   

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. 
Her new book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places will be released June 23, 2016
You can reach her at:


ruth coghill said...

Thanks Heidi for your creative way of filtering out the truth hidden in criticism. Great piece

Peter Black said...

I also 'felt' the sting of criticism administered in an unkind way as you shared that experience. And that's likely, in part, because I'd endured similar experiences. It's good to know that your growth in creativity received fresh impetus through your responding with diligence and determination. Every blessing on your continuing ministry. ~~+~~

Lux G. said...

Criticism stings especially the destructive ones. It takes an open mind to accept constructive criticisms.

Wise words.

Glynis said...

Oh the power of words! But better yet, Oh the power of God to get us through those times where we feel less. . .
Never did like the saying sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me...

Great post and thanks for your vulnerability before us. Heidi, you are one amazing woman of God! The world is a better place because of you.

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