It reduced her to tears.
My daughter was pulled aside, her motives and commitment questioned. Her concern for others and willingness to respect authority were impugned. Because her heart and deference are authentic and pure, it absolutely blindsided her.
Later that same day, a package arrived for her. The inauspicious cardboard mailer contained a t-shirt from a race in Portland, a gift from friends she made over the summer at a running camp in Washington state. (And an autographed photo of Emily Infield. Woot!) But the most priceless gift inside was the card. The words inscribed affirmed my child for her
- genuine concern for new friends, even from far away
- encouragement of others
As a parent with (just barely enough) emotional distance from the situation, I marveled at this providential blessing. An unprompted, unsolicited package… a divinely-orchestrated counter-balance to what occurred earlier in my daughter’s day. I found myself weeping at God’s mercy and goodness to her as I watched the moment unfold over my kitchen table.
A similar event happened to me in the not-too-distant past. My motives, commitment, and deference to leadership were also questioned. Like my daughter, it rendered me distraught and tearful. No surprise package arrived in my mailbox that day, but God did provide me with His words that served to steady me against what could have easily derailed me for days. (Despite my sometimes-gruff exterior, my heart is ever so sensitive.)
How often we give weight to the wrong voice.
Day in and day out, we receive criticism from others. Sometimes subtle (or even imagined?), other times overt and painful. We might be given a multitude of compliments or an array of affirmation, but a singular negative comment is the only one we retain. We stew over it. We ache. And all the while, we fail to hear the only words that truly matter: God’s.
The written contents of the card for my daughter depicted for me how very important it is to know—and fully internalize—what our Lord says of us. Only as we’re deeply rooted in that soil, can we stand tall when the winds of criticism gust our way.
God’s Word instructs and rebukes. (2 Timothy 3:16) And, when spoken in love, we need to be prepared to hear correction from others. (Ephesians 4:15, James 5:19) We aren’t assured of hearing only things we like from God and His people. But I fear we spend too much time listening to the uninspired and humanly-flawed messages tossed carelessly into our hearts and minds, and too little time embracing the true and eternal words God speaks over us .
Know whose Words matter. Know what they say. Give them full weight.