I hate criticism, just hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m painfully aware that I need to improve, in all sorts of areas. I also know that to do this an outside opinion as to what I’m doing wrong is very helpful. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it! As Adrain Plass says:
Freely I confess my sins to God, so he can pour his grace in, But when another lists my faults, I want to smash his face in!
However, there’s definitely something worse. Much, much worse. Receiving praise! It’s terrible.
Actually, let’s be honest, that’s a lie. I love praise. I love being told I’m good a something. If people write something nice about me on facebook, or if I hear people talking about how great I am, then, I’ll be honest, I love it. But what I struggle with, is when people praise me to my face! They just walk up and say something nice about me, or tell me I did a fantastic job at something. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. Heck, I need it. I really do. It’s just I have no idea what to say in response to it.
I use to just turn it around, in a pathetic attempt to be funny. So, for example, someone comes up and says, “I really enjoyed your flute playing this morning, it sounded beautiful” and my response would be something like, “Oh, so I normally sound terrible do I?”. In my head this wasn’t as nasty as it sounds, it was supposed to be funny. But I soon realised this wasn’t a good way to handle it. It can be hard for people to give praise and to have it thrown back in their faces really was incredibly cruel of me.
My next coping strategy was no better. You see most of these situations occur in church and so, when praised, I would say something like, “Oh, it wasn’t me, it was God.” I think there are two problems here. Firstly, I’m again throwing the praise back in people’s faces, but, secondly, it’s more than a bit presumptuous. I mean maybe I did do well, but, did I really do so well as to make out that God did it! As one story goes: A woman goes up to her minister at the end of a service and says, “I loved your sermon today vicar”. “Oh it was God that did it, not me”, he replies. The woman thinks for a second and says, “It wasn’t that good!”
This has led to my current coping method. Which is becoming stupidly British, almost Hugh Grant like and says something along the lines of, “Oh, well, oh, urm, thank you, urm, thank you very much, urm, yes, well, thanks, yeah, urm, right, well, yes.” Try and imagine this with lots of awkward hand movements, hair touching and shuffling of feet. I mean it’s pathetic.
But you have to understand, I’m a northern bloke. I’m simply not equipped to deal with people saying nice things to me. My friendships, when I was growing up, largely involved winding one another up and calling each other names. I’m very comfortable with this. It feels natural, normal. My best mate, he knows who he is, is someone whom I don’t think I’ve ever praised for anything, and visa versa. I mean, why would we?
I do hope this blog doesn’t stop people praising me. To be honest, I need it. I need to be told a sermon went well. I need to be told that something I wrote made a difference to someone. I do. I wish I didn’t, but I do.
I just hope that, when people do praise me, they understand why I’m incapable of responding in a normal, human way. I also hope that people realise how hard I find it to praise others. So many of my friends and the people I’m at college with (they’re my friends too, but you know what I mean!) are amazing people. So gifted and wise. But I rarely tell them. And if I do, it would probably be covered over with an insult. I’m just not used to it. I’m getting better, but I don’t think I’ll ever really manage it.
So, yeah, I’m terrible at saying nice things to people, but, please, don’t tell me that, I’ll want to smash your face in!