Monday, March 03, 2008

Accepting Compliments

I read a really interesting post on my cousin Susie's blog. I started to reply in her comment section, but then realized my response was too long for that it is. (Go read Susie's post first, then come back here!)

It's so odd, but so many women feel as Susie does. You're smart, and beautiful, and talented...but if someone compliments you on your beauty, intellect or skills, it's hard to accept gracefully. We say things like "Thanks, but I hate my hair!" or "No, I'm not smart, YOU'RE smart!"

Maybe it would be easier to say "Oh, thank you!" and believe in the compliments if we could think of such kind words as actually praise to God, who created us? Sort of like, if someone tells us our daughters or nieces are beautiful, we beam with pride...we don't say "oh, no she's not!" So, when someone says "you are such a beautiful woman!" smile with pleasure at the praise aimed at God's creation instead of thinking "that person doesn't know what he/she's talking about...I'm not beautiful!"

When we think "oh, no I'm not" about a compliment, it's sort of like saying "the person who gave me the compliment is stupid, or has terrible judgement, or is lying..." We're saying that WE know much better than they do. Same with knowing God loves us just as we are, but feeling as if we have to prove it to Him, or earn it somehow. We're saying that deep down, we don't REALLY believe He can love everyone and forgive everyone, and that somehow, we have to do something to make it easier for Him to love us. What makes us so specially complex or supernaturally hard to love that even God needs help?? It's very hard, but somehow,we have to trust that God's love is so powerful, He doesn't need help to love us.

Some of those feelings of being unable to accept compliments come from society. We tell our young women, our daughters and nieces and friends, that they are smart and beautiful, and they should love themselves...but then they hear us downgrade ourselves ("Oh, no, I'm not pretty/smart/whatever," or "I hate my ugly hair/face/hands/feet/ears/boobs/etc.!") and they hear us downgrade each other ("Did you hear her say she thought she was pretty? She's so vain!") In order for our daughters and nieces to grow up secure in their own God-given intellect, talents and beauty, and grow up knowing that God and their families love them, they needs to know we love and admire ourselves....that we, the women in their families, who share genetics with them, like who we are and know that we are smart and beautiful.

I feel like I'm in a self-help group like AA, but here's the first step: "Hi, my name is Carolie, and I'm pretty, smart and talented."

All together now: "Hi, Carolie."



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