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My Version of “Critic’s Math”

Not long ago, Jon Acuff, wrote about “critic’s math.” In his
, he talks about how even someone as successful as Larry
David (co-creator of Seinfeld) does it.

How does this formula work? X number of compliments + 1 insult = 1 insult. Acuff says that we all too often lose sight of the
overwhelmingly positive in the face of a single negative.

I do this. You probably do it, too. I think it’s human (meaning fallen) nature to accentuate the negatives this way (“I heard You, and I was naked. So I hid).

As if that isn’t bad enough, some of us (meaning: me) take it a step further.

What do I mean?

I call it Chad’s corollary. Here’s how that works:

I’ve achieved a modest level of success in the blogosphere, and thus
have received a certain number of “attaboys.” By and large, very few
people have leveled any criticism at me.

In a very real sense, I’m somewhat prepared for it: I know that my
writing is not for everyone, that I exist in a certain niche–not everyone will get me. And that’s okay. I can deal with the lumps that come my way.

But what happens when the criticism strikes closer to home? When perhaps my wife doesn’t like something I’ve written, or said? Am I likewise prepared?

The answer has been, unfortunately, a resounding “No.” In my version of “critic’s math,” despite all the nice things she’s said about my writing over the years, on the rare occasions she’s had something less than flattering to say, I’ve gone “to the mattresses.”

The one person on this earth who is the most “for me,” and I’ve treated her like a bad boss–even accused her of being out to get me. In a badly misplaced sense of “artistic pride,” I’ve given her

As my friend, Ricky
, told me: that’s what bad bosses do.

But not wives.

Wives are on our teams.

My wife is on my team. Yet when I work hard on something, and she
brings a challenge–a little accountability–I bring out the claws.
Despite learning at the Love and Respect conference that women, by and large, confront to connect. Not to spar, but to engage.

She does this because she doesn’t want anything to come between us.

Which I don’t want, either. But is exactly what I do when I want the
strokes without the accountability. By fighting so ardently for my vision, my rights, my point of view, I put her on the wrong side of my dream.

Which is exactly the last thing I want her to do: is see this blog–my
writing–as something that comes between us. Especially if I want it
to become something more than a modestly trafficked blog.

I need her on my team.

And what did Jesus say? “He who seeks to save his live, shall lose it…”

I’m done trying to “save” my life. As such, Lisa, I want to publicly
apologize for running roughshod over your feelings. For playing “critic’s math,” when all you wanted to do was build me up. Please forgive me.

And faithful readers, this is where you come in: if you’ve ever found any value in this blog, any worth in the words I’ve spilled upon this page, please help keep me accountable in giving proper weight to the words of the one person on Earth who loves me the most.

Thank-you for reading!

Have you ever done this? Pushed back when you should have embraced?