So, Christmas is 6 days away, and so you thought this post was about Christmas?
photo by Teri McAllister
This, my friends, is about something different.
It's about compliments, and the easily given, the not well received, and the hard time believing the foolishness of them.
Today, a dear friend posted a photo of herself in front of a snow covered tree. She wore a gorgeous cherry red coat, a smile as big as it was beautiful, her stunning white, grey and dark hair tumbled in a braid down her front, and her cheeks glowed as rosy as her coat. Now, I personally think this friend is a knock-out. And amazing. And accomplished. And smart, and witty and so much more...
So, I told her so.
But let's back up a few years. I saw an acquaintance at church and complimented her on how lovely she looked. J is one of those people who is always smiling, and lights up a room. She was also a very accomplished business woman who could command a room with her presence.
I wasn't exactly the queen of confidence around a woman like her.
But what did she do at my words? She did that hand wave thing that basically brushed aside my compliment as ludicrous.
I was annoyed. Not at her. For her.
I stopped being a Nervous Nellie and stared her down.
I said "J, do you think I'm lying?"
She muttered something.
"J, why did you do that?"
"Brush off a compliment."
"Yeah, you did. Did you think I said that to practice lying?"
By now she was tearing up.
"I feel like a schlub, you know? I feel not too fabulous today."
So, I put on my brave and told her off. In a nice way.
"J? Listen to me. Just accept the compliment for what it was. An acknowledgement of the truth. Don't brush it off as a lie. And do not insult the giver by insinuating that those words are empty. Take the compliment, okay? Just say thank you. And believe it."
She proceeded to sniffle and weep, and nod her thanks.
So, what had happened?
A woman who many thought "had it all", did not.
She was lacking in self confidence that day, and badly needed to hear something nice. Not because her husband wasn't telling her all the stuff good husbands are supposed to do, and do without prompting.
But because it's hard out there for us girls.
It's hard to step out into a world in which the standard for beauty and achievement is measured on a scale of Duchesses and movie stars. A handful of examples, out of several billion women on this planet!
And we are hardest on ourselves!!
If I was asked to describe a friend, the last thing I'd mention was her "shape". And you know exactly what I mean.
But when we're are asked to describe ourselves?
Our go-to starting line is ...what?
All that we see in the mirror that we don't like.
See that photo up there, of me? Yeah, umm, that is one of my favourites, but *I* see the cheeks I don't love. And a few other things.
But that was a great day. And I refuse to dwell on the "don't likes" and focus on why it was such a good day. Why? Because it was the first time I actually posed for professional head shots, as requested by my brand new literary agent.
That photo represents a LOT more than just a picture.
Now, here is my request...describe yourself how you are, not how you look. Look in a mirror and say "I am kind, I am funny, I care about my loved ones, I fight for those who can't, I am a child of God, not of condemnation..."
And then end it with..."I am beautiful."