“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Last year was a pretty amazing year for my family. We bought a new house. Our oldest started high school. Our middle child started junior high and discovered a love for basketball. Our youngest son was recognized for his exceptional reading ability. The two older kids both outgrew me. My husband received a promotion at work and traveled to Taiwan for the first time. I launched my first book. It was chosen as the final book selection for our church’s women’s ministry book club.
In the midst of all that amazing were irritating whispers, “you’re not good enough… someone else could do (fill in the blank) better than you… you aren’t involved enough in your kids’ school work… you still haven’t reached your goal weight after all this time…” Honestly, the whispers followed me around and tormented me pretty much all of last year. They were hard to ignore. On good days I fought back with truths from God’s words. On hard days I believed them. Sometime towards the end of the year they were silenced.
The week of January 18th, the week of my women’s event, the event I dreamed about, planned and anticipated for months, they tried to resurface. The week of the event I was overwhelmed. Even though God provided a small team of truly amazing women who prayed for the event and a supportive husband and children, the week of the event I still felt so alone. I felt responsible for the experience that each woman would have and the weight of responsibility sometimes overwhelms me.
Much of the pressure I experienced was self inflicted. My greatest take away from that weekend was realizing how much I fear criticism. My goal was to host the perfect event, to create the perfect experience. You know what? It wasn’t the perfect event, but it was the event my team and I prayed for… an event that would transform women’s lives. In spite of my errors and shortcomings, God provided the support and the experience needed to inspire the women who attended to take action towards making lasting changes in their lives.
When my awareness of my imperfections tried to overcome my joy of a dream realized, I remembered the promise of the 62nd Psalm:
…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me…
I want to encourage you. Live boldly. Dare greatly. Risk failing. Risk making mistakes that others will see and potentially criticize. Your victory and honor, your approval comes from God alone. He can protect your heart and emotions from the pain of criticism.
I’ve learned the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons learned from them inspires others to risk their own comfort.
One of the women who attended the event shared how one of the speakers inspired her to go home and clean out her refrigerator. She’s determined not only to lose weight, but to get her blood pressure under control. Another woman commented that reading my book and attending the event were the motivation she needed to find her way back to a healthier life.
Nearly half the women who attended had never run a 5K before. This event empowered them to do something they didn’t know they were capable of doing.
One of the most amazing stories of all is from my own sister, Khalilah Elliott. Khalilah was one of the keynote speakers. After returning home to New York, she organized a group of co-workers to enter a half marathon AND she’s launching an event of her own on March 5th!
I’m grateful to have been allowed the opportunity to inspire these women on their journeys. I would have missed this opportunity, if I had allowed a fear of criticism to stop me.
#TalkBack in the comments: Has the fear of criticism stopped you from living at your potential? What’s one thing you can do before the end of the month to push past this fear?
P.S. I am proud to be hosting one of the satellite events for my sister’s vision planning event. There will be events launching in New York, D.C., Dallas, Houston and Phoenix on March 5th. If you’re interested in learning more, click the image below for details.
Destined to win,