I wonder if my daughter will be as lousy at taking compliments as I am. I hope not, but if she’s anything like me, then we’ve got work to do.
Whenever someone directs a kind word at me, I almost never believe them. I brush off their kindness, their apparent opinion of me, with a flick of my hand and an eye roll.
Most often, I tell myself they must feel sorry for me – that their compliment is actually a form of pity. I figure they can see how ugly or stupid I am, certain they don’t actually believe the words coming from their mouth.
Just the other day, my husband complimented me on my physical appearance. My body. My face. And us usual, I croaked out a sarcastic “thank you” accompanied by my signature eye roll.
And later on, someone told me I was “knocking it out of the park.” Those were her exact words in relation to something I’d written.
And my first thought? “I can’t write as well as so-and-so. Has she actually read anything I’ve written?” I figured she could see just how little talent I have, and assumed she hadn’t actually meant what she said. So, I responded with a flippant word of thanks, and another eye roll.
But then both of my complimenters called me out, wondering why I couldn’t receive their kindness, why I couldn’t find it in myself to believe them.
And I realized my inability to receive their compliments had nothing to do with their supposed pity, and everything to do with my own.
My own self-pity, a constant companion that reminds me the world is full of people who are prettier or smarter or better than me. And I wallow in it, wondering why I didn’t get the smarts or the looks or any number of other things.
But maybe beauty and brains and everything else really are in the eye of the beholder. And maybe I need to take a good look at myself to see what I’ve been missing.
Because maybe compliments aren’t just meant to direct our attention to what another HUMAN being thinks of us, but to remind us of what a HIGHER being thinks of us. Maybe the goodness that others see in us is the same goodness that God sees in us. Maybe the compliments aren’t just a nod from those we do life with, but a nod from the One who gave us life.
Maybe God is up there nodding in agreement when someone sends a kind word our way. Maybe He’s patting himself on the back while thinking “I did that. I made that. I made HER. And she is good.”
Maybe in a world where personal attacks come at us from every direction, from inside and out, we need reminders that we are valuable beings. And maybe God places certain people in our path to remind us of just that.
Whether that’s the case or not, it’s time I start graciously receiving compliments instead of resisting them. It’s time I start believing my complimenters, and begin seeing the best in others as well as in myself.
Because if I want to teach my daughter how to accept the goodness of others – if I want her to appreciate the goodness within herself – I must lead by example.
I want her to look in the mirror and see a valuable human being. I want her to see the good that I see in her, and perhaps more than that, I want her to catch a tiny glimpse of what God sees when he looks at her.
And when I give her a compliment? Well, I want her to believe me.