Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sticks and Stones

O Lord, You have scrutinized me and You know me. -Psalm 139:1

Recently, I've been struggling with how to handle what others think of me. I have a tendency to let thoughts and words of others sink in.

The problem is, I take what people say verbatim. I absorb, process, apply, and store what people say, instead of letting it glance off. Sometimes things are said accidentally, or sometimes I interpret things the wrong way, that the statement didn't actually mean what I thought it did.

Constructive criticism is different than what I am talking about, but on a side-note, I believe that I usually take constructive criticism fairly well. But that's always debatable.

It just seems that lately my failures are pointed out rather than the good things. I'm not saying that everyone always tells me the bad and what I don't want to hear, but lately that's all I've remembered. And it's driving me crazy.

I mess up a lot. I know that. So do those who know me, but it seems like every failure has to be pointed out constantly. Not doing something on time or ever at all. Over-committing between friends, family, school, and volunteer activities. Visibly displaying my lack of patience. Being my sometimes introverted (some would say antisocial) self instead of being out there with the world.

I'm not depressed, just frustrated. I can't change on a whim. I can't do a lot of things when I already have a lot to do, you know?

I'm a big believer in not judging others. Do I fall short of that? You better believe I do, but I don't enjoy that when the realization of my sin has hit me. So when I ask others not to judge, and then I judge, I am labeled a hypocrite. I'm just fueling this endless circle of judging and not judging.

I've always known that the only One who can judge me and others is God. I think we all, myself definitely included, sometimes forget that fact.

One of my favorite TV shows brought a person into my world that I never would have met otherwise. Captain Phil Harris, on the Discovery show Deadliest Catch, was a man who lived his life to the fullest. No matter what he did, good and bad, he did so with all of his energy. Everything material and immaterial, valuable and priceless, was worth every ounce of life that he had. It was all important.

Captain Phil died this February, but on the TV show, he finally died a few episodes ago (July 13). Ever since, I've witnessed how others reacted to learning the loss of his illness, his miraculous progress in the recovering, and his surprising death. All of their reactions: fellow captains, deckhands, his own sons...all of them understood that a wonderful person just left this earth.

Now I know that I didn't meet Captain Phil, but watching him and learning about him from others, I've learned many things about crab-fishing and the like. I have also learned that it is possible to live one's life without caring what others think. He admitted that he did some things that are considered bad by the majority of folks, but he also did a lot of good. He was who he was. That was that. If you didn't like him, oh well.

I hope that one day that I can possess the self-confidence to believe fully in myself, to trust more fully in God, and to not care so much what other people think, just like Captain Phil.

God has and does examine me and my actions. He should be my only judge. God knows who I am...every fault, failure, and success. His words are the only ones that should sink in to my very being.
Our true worth does not consist in what human beings think of us. What we really are consists in what God knows us to be. -St. John Berchmans
Johnny Cash sings so poignantly in the song "Hurt." Of all that I love about that song, I think the very last verse sums it up well:

If I could start again,
a million miles away.
I would keep myself.
I would find a way.

I am who I am, I can't change me. I can only try to do better with what God has given me and what He has asked of me.


Lori said...

Oh Ashley, my advice to you as a 50 ish person is enjoy your youth! One of the gifts I believe God gives us when we get older is to not care so much what others think. Maybe we just get tired of that at a certain age, but there is a comfort in it. You are just fine, a wonderful girl from what I can read and someone who love God very much, so you have already attained what so many young people are struggling so hard to find, and loosing their way trying to find it, going down all the wrong paths. Just stick with Jesus and He will lead you through every stage of your life!

Read that Psalm (139) over and over again until it seeps into your soul. And don't forget, if you can laugh at yourself, you are already ahead of the game. I see so many people my age who never laugh.....don't lose that, it's one of the best gifts God has given us....Enjoy!

Lori said...

Sorry I didn't spell check this and it is bugging me....see I still worry alittle about what others think! Lori

s-p said...

It has taken me about 58 years to figure out what you are struggling with. I used to be hypersensitive to criticism, real or imagined. Now I'm a Curmudgeophan and pretty much WYSIWYG and say what needs to be said if it needs to be said. You need to find "you" and change what really needs changing not just what makes other people happy with you, stop overcommitting yourself to things that don't matter that cause conflicts in order to please people, and learn to say what you mean and let your "nay be nay and your yea, yea", if you can do those things, you'll be fine. :)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

You are young, Ashley, and you are a great person. The confidence to believe that you are a great person comes only with years and with the recognition that the only opinion that counts is God's. No one else is smart enough to tell you how you SHOULD do anything. Actually, I never told my kids when they were growing up what they should do and what was "wrong" with them because, as I told the investigator who called to ask about Shane for his clearance for his job with the CHiPs, "You're talking to his mother, so the only thing I can tell you is that I think he is perfect." I always thought my kids were perfect just the way they were. Perhaps that gave them more confidence in dealing with the outside world when there were criticisms. We would look at those criticisms together to see if there were any objective truth (and therefore some learning to be done) or not (in which case, they could brush away the comment as coming from someone with incomplete information). I don't know you well, Ashley, but from what I have seen of you -- and you are slightly younger than my children -- I am sure I would consider you perfect just the way you are. After all, how can you be anything else? You are God's child. Let God correct you, not those who know less.

BTW, I want to let you and other followers know that my Blest Atheist blogspot went down. I replaced it with 100th Lamb ( I explain why there.