A Lesson from the Prophet

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home” Matthew 13:57

This Bible quote was brought to my attention many years ago as an explanation of why it is that strangers may praise our artistic works while friends and relatives seem to barely notice them. It’s true that this sort of thing happens. A lot.

Case in point: I myself have received about 25 positive reviews of my novella online from people I’ve never met – yet none from anybody who actually knows me “in real life”. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people I know “in real life” who have even read it. And my blog here? My last entry, a poem I wrote, received eleven likes from total strangers. And not one from anybody I know.

It seems logical that if 25 strangers like a book enough to go to the trouble of writing a review, then it must not be a bad book. Likewise, if eleven strangers come across a poem and tell you they like it. But we artistic types are often cursed with low self-esteem and a need for feedback to keep us from giving up on our creative endeavors. We may receive positive feedback from fifty people, but the one person who gives negative feedback – or no feedback at all – is what sticks in our brains. And no feedback may as well be negative. It means either they couldn’t be bothered reading/ listening to/ acknowledging our efforts (and it is effort!). Or that they do read or listen but dislike it so much they decide to say nothing at all. Ouch.

Or… it could be what Jesus said (and experienced himself in his own hometown). When we know someone in one way, that is often the only way we can see them. The girl you know from school. The teen who used to cut your grass or walk your dog or babysit your kids. The woman who married your friend or your brother or cousin. The man who sold you a car a few years back. The baby whose diaper you changed. You can’t think of them any other way. That’s who they are to you – not a writer or a singer or an actor or a painter. Or a prophet.

I suppose this is the best way for us sensitive creative creatures to look at the lack of acknowledgment from those we know. It’s certainly much easier on the ego to believe that people are short-sighted than to believe they really just don’t like what you’re doing (or don’t care enough to even bother looking at it). And isn’t that the whole positive thinking thing we’re supposed to do to keep our heads from filling with negative thoughts?

So, to the artistic among us, trust that what you’re doing is worthwhile. Accept the acknowledgements and praise from those who give it and forget about those who don’t, whatever their reasons.