Tuesday, July 15, 2008

get a saddle

In recent days, I had a conversation with a beloved young lady who complained to me that everyone she knew was "jumping down her throat." I wanted her to know that criticism is important to hear, and although that can be painful, there's something vital to be learned from every jumper.
As I told her this, I heard the words echo in the back of my head from my days working in a treatment/school facility- they were printed on a paper hung on the bulletin board in the staff office:
If one person calls you a horse— laugh at him. If a second person calls you a horse— think about it. If a third person calls you a horse— get a saddle.
I remember being where she is now- In college I was told that I could never fully understand myself because there are elements to me that only the outside person can see- like having a "kick me" sign on my back. That insight was a stunner, because up to then, I felt that I knew myself completely, and that anyone who disagreed with me just didn't understand. But I had to accept, at least eventually, that it's true- I have a limited ability to know myself from in here behind my face, and so it's important to hear what others say about me, good and bad- so I can get an ever better understanding of who God made me to be, and how I'm doing at the job of being me.
One day at a shopping center parking lot a friend drove up to me and said she had spotted me driving in, and knew it was me, because she could see I was whistling and I am always whistling. I was shocked! I always whistled? I had no idea that I whistled often enough that it would be an identifying trait. Once she pointed it out to me, I found out she was right-I do whistle a lot.
A young man in the school I mentioned above wrote me a note when he graduated. He said "I hope you always laugh too much." That one really made me think- do I laugh too much? Do I laugh more than other people? He was right too- I do laugh a lot, and I catch myself laughing at things that no one around me is laughing at. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I feel like Alex, the note-writer, was appreciating this odd trait of mine, and I guess I appreciate it too. I'd rather laugh too much than cry too much.
I'm not good at taking criticism... I've been told that... but after my initial reaction I do mull over what I hear, and the criticism and feedback I've gotten from people in my life have helped me become the kind of person I want to be- on my journey toward becoming the kind of person God wants me to be.


Catholic Wiz Kid said...

So how does this fit into your advice to me that I should dismiss the bad things people say about me and listen to the good?

margmor said...

Ahh, excellent question grasshopper! Remember the 3-1 equation of the horse example... the deal is if three people tell you good things, you must get that saddle. And if only one person gives you bad news about yourself, you can disregard. See?
PS: you're a good youth minister. you're a good youth minister. you're a good youth minister.