Sunday, December 16, 2007

My stance on criticism

A couple of Saturdays ago I watched a wonderful TV movie called, "Beyond the Prairie." It was so lucky I found it because normally we don't check the TV guide during the day time on week-ends. My husband noticed it was on just as it was starting. So instead of doing the housework I'd intended, I put up my feet and watched it instead.

"Beyond the Prairie" was a sort of unofficial biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder after she married her husband, Almanzo and their daughter, Rose was born. In the movie, the three of them travelled further west than they'd ever been before to begin a new life at Mansfield, Missouri. Now I'd been feeling a bit grouchy about lack of money to handle Christmas expenses. This movie boosted my attitude like some sort of sling. Watching the hardships these people suffered in their covered wagons, followed by the tribulations they endured once they reached their destination showed me that I am really living a life of immense blessings.

If these 19th century pioneers didn't give every drop of blood, sweat and tears they could, they'd starve. And it was most uncommon for all the children of a family to live to adulthood. (Of course I already knew all this, but it's good to be reminded). Yet the enormous faith in God and the industry shown by the Wilder family was truly inspiring, with many of Laura's own quotes in the narration. On the whole, I thought it so well done that I told my husband, "I know why God doesn't always answer my prayers for prosperity the way I'd like Him to. Through this movie, He was telling me, 'See, you have nothing to complain about.'" And it was enough to make me happy again!

Now while I was doing a bit of an internet search, I discovered a website about this film with some ratings from the public on it. And not all of them were positive. Some were scathing. One lady wrote that in her opinion it did not do justice to the hardships the family actually had to face! I typed that in bold letters because I could not believe what I read. We'd watched the same movie yet her opinion and mine were poles apart.

After my amazement had subsided, I was glad I read the comment. It's help me to re-adjust my own attitude to the sort of criticism I sometimes get related to matters of writing, homeschooling, house-keeping and child-raising (but especially writing!) One negative comment has sometimes had the effect of making my heart plunge so deep into despair that I never want to make an effort again. But even when criticism comes from the most authoritative sources, it is all relative! Of course I already knew this also, but what a releasing thought. It empowers me to get all I can from negative remarks, then shrug them off and get on with my life without thinking, "It must be true! This is rubbish!" Two people can read or watch the same story in a book or on TV and come away with totally different feelings. It can make life confusing, but it's just a side-effect of the world full of interesting people God has made.

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