Some people seem to like to rain on your parade, but we can learn how to hoist an umbrella and continue on.
They couldn’t help themselves.
Anything my friend did was negated. Any attempt at doing something special, creative, or different was criticized and smashed with harsh words. Sometimes an indifference, a bored ‘Whatever.’
It wasn’t that they wanted approval, but more so, they wanted to share the joy they found in their creativity.
They had the breath of a creative God within them, and they wanted to share their own creative expression with those dearest to them, but it was routinely dismissed as nothing. So there was ambivalence to their deepest gift.
Something began to die and shrivel up within them. The spark of expression was growing low.
Nothing they did was good enough. Depression, a poverty of spirit, and despair slowly began to suffocate the God breath out of them.
Raining on your parade
It’s an interesting little idiom to ‘Rain on one’s parade.’ Basically, it means to spoil someone’s pleasure.
When you are celebrating and having a great time, someone comes and brings bad news. The joy of a parade is washed away under a downpour of bitterly cold rain.
And it happens probably more than we realize.
It’s those little criticisms.
Words such as
- Be careful. You might get a big head.
- You’re acting like a fool.
- That will never amount to much.
- Why are you wasting your time on that?
Laughing and mocking at something you consider important.
Belittling the big things happening in you.
Wanting you to feel small so they can feel big.
Its abuse, plain and simple.
No celebration at the germination of a creative seed within you.
Michal and Sarah
I think two stories from the Bible speak to this ‘raining on one’s parade.’
For King David, it was a parade. A literal parade of celebration and joy and dance. But his wife, Michal, couldn’t bare to see his joy and the community falling in love with him.
Here’s the story.
It was reported to King David that God had prospered Obed-Edom and his entire household because of the Chest of God.
So David thought, “I’ll get that blessing for myself,” and went and brought up the Chest of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David, celebrating extravagantly all the way, with frequent sacrifices of choice bulls. David, ceremonially dressed in priest’s linen, danced with great abandon before God.
The whole country was with him as he accompanied the Chest of God with shouts and trumpet blasts.
But as the Chest of God came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, happened to be looking out a window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before God, her heart filled with scorn.
They brought the Chest of God and set it in the middle of the tent pavilion that David had pitched for it. Then and there, David worshiped, offering burnt offerings and peace offerings.
When David had completed the sacrifices of burnt and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies and handed out to each person in the crowd, men and women alike, a loaf of bread, a date cake, and a raisin cake. Then everyone went home.
David returned home to bless his family. Michal, Saul’s daughter, came out to greet him: “How wonderfully the king has distinguished himself today—exposing himself to the eyes of the servants’ maids like some burlesque street dancer!”
David replied to Michal, “In God’s presence I’ll dance all I want! He chose me over your father and the rest of our family and made me prince over God’s people, over Israel. Oh yes, I’ll dance to God’s glory—more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned . . . I’ll gladly look like a fool . . . but among these maids you’re so worried about, I’ll be honored no end.”
Michal, Saul’s daughter, was barren the rest of her life. 2 Samuel 6:16-23 The Message.
The second story comes from an amazing meeting between God and Abraham. Abrahams wife, Sarah, rains on God’s parade.
God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.
He said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.”
They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.”
Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”
Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.
The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
He said, “In the tent.”
One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.
Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”
God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year, and Sarah will have a baby.”
Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid.
But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.” Genesis 18:1-15 The Message
Both women rained on the parade of what God was up to. Michal never joined the dance and Sarah never really got the larger story God was inviting her to be part of.
There was a party going on, and they stood with critical eyes.
It cuts to the heart
And it cuts to the heart.
That precious gift you have, and it’s treated as worthless. So there is sadness and loss.
It’s like a part of you has no value, and it hurts, bad.
So you withdraw. You hide.
I think Jesus talked about this when he shared the parable of the sower.
The sower sows the seed, and some fall on hard stones. Some get eaten by birds, some get smothered in weeds, while others find fertile soil and grow.
Some people are not ready to receive the seed of your expression. They are hard rocky ground.
It hurts to see your joy find no room to grow and flourish. So instead, it’s trodden on or lost to the wind.
Why do they rain?
Some people seem to like rain on other’s parades. It’s like a default setting in their heads.
Here are some possible reasons.
- They have never received it themselves.
How can you give something you haven’t received in the first place. Many people have never fully received a sense of their own deep value and worthiness.No one has celebrated them for who they are and their uniqueness—no deep, thoughtful words of connection. No compelling visions were shared. So the heart is barren, dry, and possibly bitter and resentful. Out from this well flow pain, scorn, mockery, and put-downs.
- They don’t know how to give.
Giving encouragement and blessing is a learned skill. It is something we have to learn and practice until it becomes a natural, unforced habit. But, first, it’s noticing the little things—the seeds of creativity and how they are germinating into goodness.Some people don’t know how to encourage the soul of another.
- They fear you changing.
Best to keep you in a box they feel comfortable with, in control of. They see Aslan (The Christ) is on the move, and this triggers fears to rise within themselves.Change can rattle other people’s boxes. So they want to control and bring you back inline. They are scared of the new you.They want to keep you the way they are comfortable with.So they try and control through intimidation, bullying, criticism, and put-downs.The rain on your parade is an attempt to wash this newness away.
Whatever the reason, you are not responsible for their response. They are the ones who need to take responsibility for how they react to your joy.
How they respond to you may well say more about them than it does about you.
Get an umbrella and smile.
If you know the rain on the parade effect, then here are some thoughts from some who have experienced a few downpours.
- Mother Teresa says to do it anyway.
Despite how they treat you, go ahead and do it anyway. David’s response to Michal’s rain was this. ‘Oh yes, I’ll dance to God’s glory—more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned . . . I’ll gladly look like a fool.’Mother Teresa saysPeople are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway. Mother TeresaThere is a caution.
If you feel that your tender heart will suffer further abuse from them, then you may need to do this privately away from rainmakers.In Jesus’ words, ‘Render unto God what is Gods and Caesar what is Caesars.’ Give them what they need but make sure you give God your most precious gift.
- Find your tribe, the cheerleaders, the fertile soil
There are other people who will like your dance, your words, your art.Not everyone will get you, and that’s ok.Over the many years of writing this blog weekly, I have learned that I will appeal to some and not others.I heard this little saying a few weeks ago. ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe.’As I have shared various quotes, thoughts, and ideas over the years, I have slowly gathered a group of people who have a similar way of thinking.In a sense, they have become my tribe.They have friends, and so they share the content with them. The tribe grows.I’m looking for the fertile soil, not the rocky path, for me to sow the seed.I’m not expecting pigs to enjoy my pearls. Matthew 7:6
- Don’t expect to receive from others what they don’t have.
You can’t get blood from a stone, and some people don’t know a good thing when it’s right in front of them.So yes, it would be nice that everyone would encourage you but lower your expectations of others getting it.They may not have it within themselves to give.
- Don’t rain on others parade yourself.
It’s so easy to be dismissive and not take an interest in someone’s precious pearls. But they have a delight in them, and it needs to be given worth.Begin to notice the parades of others—particularly those where abusive others are raining on their parade.
- Pray for their barrenness
At the end of the story of Michal, we have a verse that reads, ‘Michal, Saul’s daughter, was barren the rest of her life.’I don’t believe that this should not be read as a direct result of her actions. Life and faith are not as mechanical and rule-bound as that.But maybe, as I have seen in many people with critical attitudes, something becomes barren within themselves.They lose the sense of the dance going on. They become bitter, not better. It’s all black and white.
So pray for the barrenness of life.
We look for the dance.
In my conversations with people, I look for the way God wants to express themselves. But, unfortunately, it has most often been hidden and kept from public view. People have rained on their parade, but now it needs to be resurrected.
Often it’s through some creative expression: art, cardmaking, writing, gardening, woodwork, music, dance.
My mother knitted beautiful woolen baby clothes. I think God delighted in every stitch.
I believe that having this expression is a sign of mental health.
So I look for it. I am gently curious about it.
Then I step into the parade and throw a few streamers and clap to the dance.
There’s a party going on, and you’re invited.
Let’s dance with David even if we don’t know the steps.
Quotes to consider
- Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread. Victor Hugo Les Misérables
- God brings us to brokenness, which allows us to unpack the baggage others have saddled on us. We begin to discover our true self. Seth Barnes
- The most stunning and staggering truth God has given to me in His Word can be summed up, perhaps a bit simplistically but I hope not irrelevantly, in two short sentences. One, God is a party happening. Two, I’m invited to the party. Larry Crabb – Real Church
- Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. Lao Tzu
- To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. Elbert Hubbard
- Praise and encouragement is much more effective in changing others’ behavior than is criticism, but which do you use on yourself? D. Riddell
- It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one. Chuck Palahniuk
- When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them. Plato
Questions to answer
- Where have you experienced a ‘raining on your parade?
- Why do you think people do this raining on someone’s parade?
- In those who do the ‘raining’ do you think there can be a barrenness of soul? A lacking in seeing what God is up to?