That One Bad Review

I was delighted—thrilled really—that my Facebook post announcing my TEDx talk reached almost 3,500 folks. Many of you shared it, and over 800 people actually watched the TEDx talk.

As I sipped my wine in the paradise of my 110 year-old porch yesterday afternoon, I received a notification that someone had commented on my TEDx post. I’m always eager to read the feedback people leave for me, but this time I read the comment and it felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

I found myself contract a little. Just when I was confident that I had successfully navigated the storm, this loud clap of thunder scared me. Was there truth in her words? Her comment included painful phrases. “You are a coward!” “You are sick.” “You stole your wife’s life.” “You robbed your children.” “You are a despicable person.”

Why is it that these observations from a complete stranger are so sticky? I told myself, “This person doesn’t even know me. She obviously didn’t listen to my talk. I mean because if she had, how could she feel this way?” I immediately took a defensive stance, and attempted to discredit her feedback.

After a few minutes mulling this over, I had an “aha” moment. Her comments were almost identical to the things I had said to myself along my journey to truth. This self-shaming dialogue once led me to a dark hole of a place. Never again. I cannot be shamed! I will not be shamed.

Her angry accusations allowed me an opportunity to reframe that punch in the gut to the real message God is constantly reminding me of: “You are enough. You have always been enough.”

No one knows my story like I know my story. I spent many years in fear. Does that make me a coward? No. I am courageous. I have most likely done some despicable things in my life, but finally living my truth is not one of them. I am filled with love. I gave my amazing wife a beautiful life filled with great joy. I brought an angel of a man into the lives of my children, and they love him wholeheartedly.

So as I often do, I drew a circle of grace around myself. And you know what? I thank this stranger for sharing the thoughts she has about me. It’s one more lesson in this wonderful life I am blessed to live.