CONFESSION: I am not good at receiving criticism. If you are a close family member or friend that has ever spoken some harder truths into my life, you're probably nodding your head vigorously right now. I see you. Mmmhmm. You're right.
There are many reasons why I struggle with negative feedback; the most challenging being my struggles with anxiety, and the (yes, irrational) fear of being discovered for my imperfections. But truth is, I've never been perfect, and the closer you get to me, the easier it is to see my cracks. So, like Adam and Eve, I hide from you as best as I can, and in the meantime create distance where there was never meant to be any as I act like nothing ever happened. Those who dare try to scope me out and bring these imperfections to my attention have oft gotten burned in the crossfire. The relationships suffer because they stay shallow, and my own personal wellbeing suffers because I do not grow.
Enter: My Parents.
See two small blue lights on the right side of the photo? That's where we walked from to get to the top of the Mirador de Turi, Cuenca. My legs STILL hurt 4 days later. Worth it? Maybe.
Mike & Angie spent 3 weeks with me here in Ecuador. It is the longest span of time my parents have ever spent visiting my world as an adult, and I've lived a lot of places over the last 12 years since moving away for college. This is very different, I learned firsthand, from my visits to my childhood home in Queens Village because that is a space led and operated by my parents. But the life I have in Ecuador as an adult woman operates on a different speed: Mine.
So it should be no surprise to anyone that most of my clashes with my parents this past month were steeped in the idea that:
This is *my* life (obvio) so my way is the best way;
Compliments = Good, Constructive Feedback = BAD; and
If it ain't broke (yet), don't fix it (yet)!
Hello, hubris... is it me you're looking for?
As if on cue (because "He may not come when you want Him, but He'll be there right on time; He's an on time God, yes He is"), my brother's Pastor, Dihan Lee preached last week (via podcast, ironically) about "Breaking through Flakiness." One of his points: "we need people to come into our lives to provoke and encourage us..."
RECORD SCRATCH: Provoke us? Ummmmmmm yikes. Cardi B., I do not like it like that.
But in order to walk in the fulness of who I am, I need to welcome people around me who are unafraid to fill me with life-giving advice, support, and many times insight on areas I need to improve. If I am always resisting this positive provocation, people around me will begin (and already have begun) to back away from helping me live in my complete destiny. It is a double loss because it is in this space where friendships become dulled out AND my own identity becomes misaligned. Yet there is still hope to make a change.
This is Us. Cuenca, Ecuador
Thankfully, I have a pretty dope set of built-in life guides who support literally whatever I put my mind to (I mean, many parents would NOT have let their daughter walk away from her career to become a... volunteer in another country, let's be real). They never let me forget whose side they're on: mine. But with that comes a bit of pruning; cutting at areas in my life that they see need some changes to allow me to continue to blossom and grow as the woman God has already created.
My parents came and reignited some of the fires that were put out over the past 16 months of service. With 11 more remaining, I commit to heed their words of criticism and receive it with grace, knowing that just the act of accepting tough love will strengthen our bond AND empower me to make the most of my Peace Corps life. Learning how to do it with my parents will help me become more open to being pruned again by other people who sincerely care about me, and spur me towards good things.
Pastor Dihan asked this question: "We need people to challenge us... but are you close enough to people where you're on the receiving end of that? Are you the kind of person who is open to such rebuke and provocation?... because maybe you're stiff-necked and that's why no one will do it."
That has been me for far too long, but it's time to change.
I'm listening. I'm receiving. I'm ready.