April Jeppson: Don’t give up, in spite of some criticism

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


Jesus had his 12 disciples. They walked the countryside together, talked, ate. These were as close to friends as Jesus had. When the going got tough, a few of these friends couldn’t handle it. Judas sold Jesus out, literally. And when the stuff really hit the fan, Peter denied knowing him. Jesus, the most perfect human to ever walk the earth, had criticism and haters.

Email newsletter signup

Last weekend we had a huge gymnastics showcase. It was the first one we’d ever put on, and it was amazing. All of our students were invited to participate, and we had been practicing for weeks. We rearranged the equipment, brought in bleachers, set up lighting, programmed music — so many hours put in behind the scenes trying to make this a special event for our gymnasts and their families. ​

We had all hands on deck. All of our employees were asked to work, and thankfully we also had parents who were willing to volunteer. (Thank you!) ​

The coaches did awesome. The music and lighting were on point. Most importantly, the gymnasts were amazing. Multiple times I had to hold back tears of joy. Watching a student bravely walk across the beam without holding a hand, attempting to do a bridge-kickover on their own or simply seeing them proudly perform their floor routine with all those people watching. I’m getting a little choked up thinking about it again. If your child was part of our program last Saturday, thank you for blessing us with them. We truly do care for each one of our kids we see each week. ​

I was coaching almost the entire showcase, so I couldn’t hear the audience comments. I didn’t get the chance to see who was cheering, clapping, smiling or who was whispering to their neighbors. After the two showcases were over, the bleachers were torn down and the mats and equipment were put back. That’s when I started to hear the audience feedback. Over the next few hours on social media, that’s when I could see who was in our circle  and who were like  Judas and Peter. ​

I’m not going to lie, it really bummed me out. It broke my heart a little to hear negative comments about our show. Then I kind of got mad that people were Monday-morning-quarterbacking our event. Of course they can see the problems and solutions clearly —  hindsight is 20/20! ​

Understand that I am in no way saying that reading a mean Facebook post is the same thing as sending someone to their death. I am saying that I felt hurt and given the Easter season, it reminded me of a powerful lesson from the scriptures. ​

Then Sunday came, a day of rest. As we approach Easter, I like to reflect on the days before the Savior’s death. One week before his crucifixion, Jesus was praised and welcomed and people were genuinely happy to see him. Then, in a matter of days, everything had changed.​

Sunday evening I was thinking about my weekend, and given some distance from the event, it occurred to me that four people complained. I received negative feedback from four people. Everyone else had extended us grace. They knew it was our first event of this kind, they saw how hard we were trying and they saw how great their little gymnasts did. I’m sure there were more than four people complaining, but I guarantee there were hundreds of people who weren’t. ​

In this last week I have received texts, messages, pictures and even flowers from happy gymnasts and their proud parents. We have received an outpouring of love and support from other small businesses in our town. ​

I have also come to realize that anyone who does anything of worth is going to have people complain about it. It doesn’t matter if you gave out free ice cream to everyone in town, someone would complain that it wasn’t lactose free or whine that they didn’t have chocolate. ​

I hope that as you go into Easter, you remember that Jesus knew what his purpose was and even when everyone left his side, he still went forward. How thankful I am that he didn’t give up! I am so thankful for all of those people in our town who haven’t given up, in spite of the criticism. To the movers and shakers of Albert Lea as they continue to build, grow and ruffle feathers — thank you!

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.