Criticism. Critics. Judgment. Negative Feedback.

I've undergone some pretty harsh criticism lately, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard to hear.

You are too much. Too flashy. Too intimidating. Too bossy. Too blunt. Arrogant.

Hard words to hear.

The person who said these things has never been as Sasha fan. So I was not completely surprised, but at the same time I was listening to the feedback, I was trying to be #braveenough to start something new. When you are building something, stepping out on faith, hoping your vision and mission will meet the needs of people while conveying your heart, you need honest feedback. You need people to say well, this is good, but this is not so good. In the midst of listening to some great constructive criticism, I also heard these words from someone who didn’t have my best interested in mind.

Which words do you think I heard the loudest?

I felt defeated, and I started to feel all those words were true.

It can wear you down to listen to your critics, can't it? But the fire is where iron is hardened and where we are molded and where strength arises. Where fortitude and character are built, and where your weaknesses are burned away. The fire is also where it is evident who is standing right behind you, fighting with you, saying “watch out!”  It shows you who will pick you up when you fall down.

I listened to every word this person said and stayed calm (for that alone I bought myself a bottle of wine to drink in the future). I spent the next 24 hours thinking, how can I convince this person I'm not those things? How can I win him/her over? How can I change this person’s perception of me?

I told a few close friends who counseled me. I prayed and spent time in scripture I spoke to my parents and husband. The people who know ALL my flaws. Truly.

Then I realized: Sasha, you can't. You can't change this person, you can only be a better YOU.

You cannot please everyone. As the amazing Brene Brown says “If you are not in the arena and also getting your arse kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.”  Lesson: Do not listen to people who aren't in the arena fighting with you. Author Lisbeth Darsh reminds us, “If someone does not want to go to the top of the Ferris wheel, don’t take them there.”  Amen and amen.

The lesson I learned here is this: It is not my job to figure out why I am too much for some people. That's their choice, not mine. And here’s the really sticky part…pray for that person. Invite them to your party, to hear your speech, to see you in action. Invite their criticism, their judgment, their negative feedback. When you do, you are essentially saying this: I see you, I know you are there, I know you don’t get me, but I welcome you. You may be very surprised what happens next.

I know, I know, it is hard. Really hard. Trust me. But I believe that’s what God calls us to do, and I believe that’s where the strength is made.

Pursuing your dream, living your life…this will be too much for others. The way you talk, dress, work, laugh, and even smile, will offend someone, somewhere.

Be kind. Be respectful. But don't cave in the corner and stay silent or inactive because you're "too much" for some person. Go forward humbly and live your dream.