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[ from the desk of a seasoned critic ]


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I was with some friends one day. They were trying to figure out the perfect music sample for a project they were working on. I was sitting quietly, but my history with them was enough that one of them felt compelled to censor me before I said anything—"I don't want to know what you think Mel. You are always so critical... You hate everything. Where's the Christian love?" My critical spirit rose up with the power of a thousand Mustangs and screamed that he was wrong to be saying these things to me. I thought of all the ways I'd seen him sin... But there was nothing I could say that could directly refute what he said. I twisted my face into my best "hurt-and-confused" expression and quickly changed the subject.

Later I heard those words echo in my mind. "Critical." "You hate everything." "Christian love." They reverberated with increasing intensity until I thought my head would explode. I prayed, asking God to comfort me by telling me that these hateful words were untrue. He spoke back: "Do you think they are true?" The bouncing hateful words slowed enough to allow me to recall reviews that I had written, conversations I had been part of, thoughts I had while listening to the radio… It was true. I was so into voicing my opinion that grace had fallen completely off the radar. My zeal to speak my mind was doing nothing except facilitate the transformation of oxygen into carbon dioxide.

God spoke again: "I have given you a heart to speak My Truth, but even the purest truth is not worth much without love." The words stopped. Everything stopped. I was caught in that span of time when pride dies. I was wrong. I had been wrong for a long time. I wondered how much damage I had done. I wondered how much it would take to curb my critical tendencies. But as I drove along, the sunshine was singing. There was no despondency. No angst or gnashing of teeth. I felt no urge to pull out my sackcloth and ashes. There was just an immense thankfulness for God's Grace. Grace that saw fit to show me my fault, and Grace that would help me get over this. Grace that would not undo what I had done, but give me the opportunity to make it right.

From the heart of this critic, and the human, fleshly, young and learning soul of a seasoned cynic, I can say nothing but this: God is faithful to save, faithful to teach, and faithful to not allow me to stay ugly. Praises eternal to Him.
- Melissa Miles
June 2003
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