Silencing Your Inner Critic

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Several months ago I was listening to the radio and heard a quote that’s stuck with me - “You wouldn’t care so much about what other people think if you realized how little they do.” In other words, people are rarely as focused on our flaws and shortcomings as we are. That brings up an important point though - we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to criticism. I’ve struggled with this since childhood - as a young boy in Pella statements like “You don’t fit in!” and “You’ll never be good enough!” were stuck on repeat in my head. They were lies of course, and sadly they were used by the enemy to steer me towards a path of self-destruction. Praise God he saved me from myself and helped direct me back to the path of life!

I wish I could say these lies are no longer a struggle, but even at the age of 46 they still rear their ugly head from time to time, especially in my relationship with my wife. Last night at community group we were talking about the influence fathers have on the spiritual development of their children; after some silence I said I could probably talk all night about the complicated relationship I have with my dad, especially as it relates to matters of faith and the things I came to believe about myself (based on my perception of what I thought my dad believed about me). When I think about these things I’m so glad we have an Abba Father who is patient, kind, and merciful, a heavenly daddy who wants us to live out of His truth!

Laura Bailey has some good things to say on this topic in her Proverbs 31 devotional titled “Silencing Your Inner Critic.” Her self-assessment sounds a whole lot like my own:

Despite the praise my parents poured into me, I never felt assured. Outwardly I appeared confident, but inwardly I was a complete mess. After years of telling myself I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, skinny enough or “fill-in-the-blank” enough, I began believing I’d never be enough for myself or anyone else.

So how do we deal with our sometimes savage inner critic? We start with a solid foundation from the Word; in Isaiah 64:8 we read, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Any thoughts we have about ourselves should start with the truth that we were designed and created by the Almighty himself!

When we’re saved, we become a new creation in Christ. In my teen years I erroneously believed that meant Jesus would take all my problems away! If only that were true! When it comes to the ongoing battle with the lies in our head, Bailey says this:

Overcoming personal challenges and resisting temptations requires a shift in perspective. I know all too well how the enemy attacks, causing me to question if perhaps the Potter made a mistake in my construction. Instead of looking inward, we must look to Christ to see our new, redeemed selves in Him, our only hope. When the father of lies prowls, I cry out to my heavenly Father for Truth to flood my mind and ease my soul before Satan pounces.

I still struggle with those lies in my head; maybe you do too. Let’s remind each other to look to the Father to crowd out the lies with His truth!