Monday, August 13, 2012

Compliments for Me?

The end of a camp experience usually brings about a flood of emotional goodbyes as we attempt to say all the things we're not sure we'll ever have the chance to say again. It's as if these final moments before departure are the only seconds we are promised and we want to exist in a world of no regrets...we never want to look back and think, 'I wish I would have told him/her this...'

I know I experienced it just a few days ago. As my summer staff departed, I wanted them to leave the summer knowing that it had been, indeed, a job well done. I fumbled over words as I tried to convey the depth of my gratitude for their hard work, longing for them to know that they mattered and that everything they sacrificed this summer was worth it. I needed them to know that they were truly cared about.

Not too surprisingly, the gesture was often returned. I found myself receiving many a praise and thanks from my staff...and I found myself nodding and smiling as they lavished words of kindness and blessings upon me.

Per usual, I felt each word knock against the door of my heart and slowly drip into a puddle at the doorstep, patiently waiting to enter. 'Not now', always seems to be the response I give. It's not time to receive these things, it's not time for them to be allowed in. It's not time because I'm not sure if they are true, if they are real, if they are genuine.

For a split second (and for the first time in a long time), I allowed myself to wonder what if...
What if these things that they are saying are true? What if they are genuine? What if...? And as this questioned penetrated my mind, I felt myself slowly losing control. I felt the sobs that were burrowed underneath begin to rise up, I felt the puddle at the doorstep begin to seep into the tiny crack in the just barely opened door as the words attempted to penetrate my heart.


It wasn't time.

So while I haven't exactly opened the door to the floodgate of good, encouraging things that await me...I've realized a few things about myself.

  • I haven't gotten any better at receiving things from others (which means I'm probably not that great at receiving them from the Lord, either).
  • I'm terrified of what it means to really believe that people think these things. 
I bet some of you can identify. 
I bet some of you, like me, don't want to admit that you ever have anything truly good to offer to people...or that you've affected someone's life in a positive way... that you've been a part of them being a completely different person. 

I bet that some of you don't want to admit that you matter to anyone else.
Because, it seems, the moment we start admitting that is the moment we start making ourselves vulnerable, it's the moment we start letting others truly affect our hearts. 

But what if...?
What if we all started to believe that we do matter to others? That, perhaps, you're capable of being a vessel of good...of true life-change? 

Even at the risk of disappointment and hurt... isn't it still worth it? 
What if we opened the door, even if it's just a little at a time, and allowed ourselves to believe that we might actually have something of value to offer to the world? 

Think about the last time someone said something kind to you or about you. 
Did you really believe it? 
Do you still believe it?
Or did you find every excuse for why they said what they did? Did you discount it? Or did you actually let it infiltrate your heart? 

I hope you did. 
And if you're more like me... well, I hope that together we can journey into what it means to open up that door. To believe that on the other side of our hardened hearts there's a world of beauty and joy... a world of hope and meaning. A world of love that can overflow our cups... instead of the self-destruction and despair we tend to bring ourselves through the doubt, second-guessing, and resistance to good things.

I'm going to start opening this door.
I have to.
For as terrifying as it is, that glimpse of what it meant to truly believe....? I want it. 

I must go beyond my skepticism and cynicism....beyond the place where I fear people only live and speak out of obligation....and then I must exist in a place where I believe that people actually mean what they say, and they do what they do because they truly care about me and love me. 

That seems like a better place to be in. 
Join me there? 

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  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I've always struggled with compliments and praises! I've also had a hard time receiving gifts, having people pay for meals, etc. But, I've been a lot better with this in the last few years because of a sermon. For me, it was a vulnerability thing.....accepting love in any way would open the door to potentially being hurt. So, the pastor asked, "How can you accept God's love when you put up a wall that prevents you from receiving love from others? You can't have a wall that rejects everyone's love except God's love. That made sense to me and I have taken great strides to change ever since. Good post, Debbie...

  2. Proverbs 27:2

    Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
    a stranger, and not your own lips.

    Proverbs 31:31

    Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

    While some praise may be shallow, much of it is genuine. The things we do should bring praise from God and I believe the genuine praise we receive from others is a gift from God. Be blessed. :)

  3. They always mean it, Debbie. You're as wonderful as we say you are, if not more.