Monday, February 1, 2016

Silencing the Inner Critic

I completed my first NaNoWriMo this year. And my initial thought was, well, that was a fail. I was supposed to write 50,000 words in one month. I wrote 15,000. 
Here's what happened every day:
I'd sit at the computer with my fingers poised over the keyboard. I'm gonna do this thing, I’d think. Write. Tell a story. Create something out of nothing. I'd type a few sentences, and it all sounded wrong. So I'd go back and delete, cut and paste, write some more. But my words still sounded flat. Like a two-dimensional sun setting over a cardboard cut-out of a mountain range. See. Even that sounds terrible!
And then I'd hear it. The voice. We've all heard the voice. The specifics may vary from person, but the message is the same:
You're no good. You can't do anything right. Your efforts will never amount to much anyway.
It's hard to ignore. The voice that plays like a song stuck on an endless repeat. It sounds so reasonable. So knowledgeable. So sure of itself.
You might as well give up before you do something stupid.
The voice paralysed me. I decided I'd be better off quitting because, you know, I don't want to look stupid. And not trying isn't any worse than trying and failing, right? It's easier even.
Not trying means I could sit on my sofa with a block of Whittaker's peppermint dark chocolate and binge-watch Once Upon a Time. At least I wouldn't have to listen to the voice telling me I'm no good.
It’s not just in writing that I struggle with listening to this voice. It’s in other areas as well. Because I’m my own worse critic. I often look back over things I’ve done – teaching a Bible study, tackling a sewing project, trying out a new recipe – and I’ve thought, well, that was a fail.
And that’s simply not the case.
Except the cauliflower pizza crust. That. Was. Just. Yuck. But I digress.
Believing we’ve failed or we’re going to fail is counter-productive to our true purpose.
We’ve got to learn to tune the critical voice out.
Because the voice is wrong.
Hallelujah, the voice is wrong.
We’ve got to remember that God has set us up to succeed.
Now I’m not saying that we don’t face adversity. We’ve all got trials we go through, and I’m not one to pretend that everything is perfect and problem-free in the Christian life! Discussing trials is a whole different post!
But I love what Ephesians 2:10 reminds us: 
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
God created us to do good things.
Let that sink in for just a minute.
God created us to do good things.
One of the applications of this verse is that we can step out boldly and confidently in those things He’s called us to do and know that they’re going to be good. He didn’t call us to failure.
The key to silencing the critical voice is to have assurance that what we’re doing is what He’s called us to.
Among other good things He has for me to do, I know that God has called me to write. I know there are ideas in my head that are gifts from Him that only I can express. But when I start doubting His call, I’m much more susceptible to believing I’m going to fail.
We’ve all got tasks we’re called to. We’ve all got good things we get to walk in.
Believe that. Take the truth from the Word of God and mix it with faith. Be bold and grab the opportunities He’s given you.
And that voice will be silenced.
Because God created us to do good things.
Be blessed,

What good things has God called you to do? What have you found to be a good strategy to silencing the critical voice? Share in the comments below.


  1. I LOVE one of the last lines, "Be bold and grab the opportunities He's given you." So true. We need to be vigilant to use the gifts He gives us and when he opens those doors, we need to step through, without being our own worst critic. Great post Jeb!

    1. Thanks Deanna! Yes! We need to step through those open doors :-)

  2. Replies
    1. It was really that article you posted about perfectionism that spurred this post, Lucy! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. I enjoyed reading your post and receiving your words of encouragement, Jebraun :)
    Yes, I have that voice big--in nearly all areas of my life. I've given it quite a foothold to keep me progressing through tasks as quick a molasses. A couple of good things (that excite and terrify me all at once) is finishing my YA trilogy, "The Forgeling" and doing some sort of after school club that blends in devotions while teaching a hobby to reach unchurched children and families. That and being a foster parent.

    1. Yeah, Shruti, that voice can seem pretty powerful, can't it? Sounds like you're moving forward though. I'm looking forward to taking a peak at "The Forgeling" some day! And I love the sound of the after school club. Being in the community and showing the love of Christ is so important :-)


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