Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Humbly Being

I was in a meeting a few weeks ago when one woman began to say some very nice things about another woman in the room. As the second woman realized she was the one being talked about she yelled out, “Don’t go there. Don’t say that.”

I know both the women, and I know that what the first was saying was true. But the second woman’s reaction is very normal. So the question is, why is it that we can’t take a compliment when it is offered in all sincerity without saying something to negate the compliment? There are several reasons I’ve thought of and they all lead us back to Living in Truth.

One reason is that for some reason we think all our faults cancel out all our good qualities. We hear the compliment offered but we think about all the ways we fell short in the last week and decide we couldn’t possibly be the wonderful person that is being complimented. That reminds me of something my grandson, Aaron, said yesterday. D2 texted me his comment, “Mom, I’m really bad at being really good.” Instead of recognizing that there are areas of our lives in which we are really good and there are areas of our lives in which we need improvement, we lump it all together and like some mathematical equation where the negative sign always carries over into the answer, we total ourselves up to be negative. That just isn’t true. The Truth is that we all have faults and we all have strengths. Those strengths are gifts of God and denying them is denying God.

Another reason we negate compliments is that we have a false sense of what it means to be humble. Jesus Christ was the example of all goodness and values. He was meek. He was humble. When asked who He was He answered, “I am” meaning He is life itself. He is existence. That “I am” was often followed with things like, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” Now you might excuse yourself by saying that He is a God and so He isn’t in the same category as we are. But that doesn’t work. The lesson here is that Jesus Christ knew who He was and what God had made Him. He knew the Truth. We, too, should know who we are and what God has made us—not just the negative, but also all the positive. I once heard humility defined as “power under control.” I like that definition a lot and it perfectly describes humility as the Savior exemplified it.

Learning what it really means to be humble has been a difficult lesson for me. I grew up around people who negated every compliment and so I thought it was how I should react. But I’ve come to realize that when people compliment me what they are seeing is what God has given me, and my denying it is denying Him. Think about this: You give your daughter a beautiful new dress. It makes you happy to give it and give it with the intent to make her happy. But when you are out with the child someone compliments her on the dress and she responds, “What, this old dress. It’s not that great.” How would you feel?

Living in Truth means that we recognize the Truth. And the Truth is that all that is good in us comes from God. So when someone compliments what we do or what we are instead of negating it, we simply realize that what they are complimenting is the grace God has given us and we say thank you to them but then pass that thanks on to God. That is humility.


Wendi said...

I have never thought about humility and accepting compliments like this. Thanks for the insight. :)

She-Mulk said...

Thank you for these thoughts. It really made me think about how I react to compliments. It was so eye-opening for me.

6L's said...

this was like an a-ha moment! thanks for this insight. :)