Do you have a hard time accepting compliments?
Just last week someone told me that I inspire them. My gut reaction was to negate that statement. Me? How can I be inspiring?
The dictionary defines an inspiring person as “someone who stimulates or arouses one’s mind or feelings to special activity or creativity.” A definition like that brings stories like Bethany Hamilton’s to my mind. Overcoming incredible obstacles, a genuine faith in Christ despite circumstances. On the other hand, it also brings to my mind people like Anthony Robbins who have figured out what words to say and the body language to use to make even the most downcast of us believe that we can achieve our dreams because we deserve it. Those are inspiring people.
That is so not me, I started to say. But then I stopped.
I’ve been contemplating true humility for the last couple of weeks after it was the topic of a Sunday sermon, specifically a point made that a mark of true humility is an accurate appraisal of who we are. How tempting it is to stack ourselves up against others to decide if we are making the cut. There are so many devices by which to measure ourselves to see our worth. Popularity. Bank accounts. Trophy shelves. Scales. Printed accolades. Billboards. Movies. Magazines. Expectations. Interpretations.
My gut instinct is to believe that I could not be inspirational, not because of who I am, but because I am not yet what I aspire to be.
This dear heart said that I inspire her because my plate is so full and yet it doesn’t consume me. I have more than enough legitimate reasons to stop, but I keep going, and that inspires her.
I didn’t really know what to say.
I wanted to point out all that I’m not doing, or at least not doing well. But if there is one thing I am proud of it’s that I’m not two faced. If my hair has been in a ponytail all week at home, it’s the same when I go out. If I leave the house frazzled I’m pretty sure you can see me visibly shake it off before I walk into a social situation. (I’ll confess that at home I send the kids racing up the stairs while I bounce on the balls of my feet, throwing fake jabs, shaking it off a la Rocky while I pump myself up to take them to the mattresses, so to speak.) If you ask me how I’m doing and I’m just okay, I’ll tell you. It’s no secret that only one room at a time is clean around here. I am who I am, take it or leave it.
This person knows that and has seen me being me, and yet she still said the words; ‘Amanda’ and ‘Inspiring’ in the same sentence.
I stopped myself from talking her out of this compliment because I think I’m beginning to get it. I’m beginning to see that I am not inspiring. Honestly. I am so ordinary it takes effort not to overlook me. I, in and of myself, am nothing.
But in Christ I am everything.
I’m reading through Crazy Love with some women at church and this is a quote from this week’s chapter; “Are you ready and willing to make yourself nothing? To take the very nature of a servant? To be obedient onto death? If your honest answer to those questions is yes, how are those intentions manifested in your life?” (117)
I want that for my life. I do. So I keep going. When I get selfish and want a day off, I find someone to serve. When I wish for a nanny or a chef or a maid, I start being a nanny or a chef or a maid. I want people to know that I esteem them above myself so I write notes, or send texts or emails. I want people to know I am grateful so I give of what I have. I want people to know that I’m broken so that they can see Him heal me. I want people to know that the most important thing is loving Christ and so I try to draw them into His presence.
I mess up. I mess up a lot. But I keep on trying.
I get selfish. I get weak. I get distracted.
But I keep trying.
I am grateful for that compliment last week. I took the time to accept it and process it and in return I was encouraged. The dictionary defines encouragement as “inspiring someone with the courage or confidence to do something.” That’s what compliments should do for us. We should accept them gratefully.
I want to be more Christlike. I mess up. I keep trying. If watching that process can inspire someone then I am doing what I ought to do.
To borrow Francis Chan’s words; “The point of your life is to point to him. Whatever you are doing God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.” (45)
That is the desire of my heart, to point to Him, and if He can use me as a vessel to inspire others to the same, I will be encouraged to keep trying.