Do you ever reach the end your day and think “Wow, I wish I didn’t get complimented today. It really brought me down when that woman told me I looked nice.”? If you’re like me, probably not.
Lately I have been thinking along the vein of how my speech has an influence on my heart and my ability to value others. I’ve begun to realize as I attempt to better understand how to love the people in my life that the degree of which I love them, respect them, and admire them are lost if I fail to communicate it generously to them.
What I’m about the elaborate on makes me feel like I’m walking that line a cop tells you to walk when they pull you over to test your sobriety; whatever you do don’t freaking step too far to the left or right (the one time I had a cop make me do this was when I was very tired, not paying the best attention to my driving and had zero drinks. I’m just a dingbat driver. For the record).
We live in a time of such self awareness of the manner in which we dish out praise to one another. This is a culture in which we don’t want to raise shame in one by only praising physical attractiveness, athletic prowess and other traits that are shallow features in comparison to the character that needs to be given equal or greater credit. We have even gone as far to think that you should completely avoid acknowledging those parts of people in fear of enabling them to only rely on the exterior version of who they are. I love that we recognize the value in praising personality, character, beliefs and accomplishments and to consider those features the ones of greatest weight when we look upon the composition of a person.
Forgive me for asking, but is it possible that the pendulum can swing too far with that thought life? Have we tried too hard to be objective in fear of being subjective to attractiveness and talent? Are we missing out on that opportunity to possibly be the only person to compliment someones lovely eyes this year because we don’t want to be the stumbling block for their misplaced sense of self worth? Is it truly wrong to have an eye for beauty and affirm it when we see it in someone else? When did it become wrong to want to tell that friend “You look amazing. What have you been doing to get in such great shape”? The exterior of a person is dangerous if it’s the only part you appreciate but it also is a part of them that matters.
I’m not saying to have physical attractiveness in a person be the only thing that catches your eye and to only compliment that. See a persons heart, their strength despite their broken parts, their gumption to triumph and let those be the features which deserve the highest affirmation but don’t miss out on the opportunity to make someones day by saying their haircut looks great either. See what happens when you allow yourself a green light on all opportunities to genuinely compliment those you get interact with. Maybe sometime this week, find a random way to compliment someone and you might see a spark in their eyes for being recognized by you. To refuse to acknowledge beauty in ourselves and others is to snuff something human about us.
What if we stopped withholding the love we can speak to each other? Can you imagine being that person who gave out life to another who desperately needed to be seen today and you were the one to give that to them?
I am the one who is most keenly aware of my brokeness. I need to lose a few pounds, eat more vegetables, get in better shape and the list goes on and on and on. I need to stop thinking about myself first in my relationships, intentionally connect more with who I feel created me, to continue the work on my humility and to stop being subjective of those I respect in this world based on their political views, beliefs, and lifestyles. I have A LOT to work on along with perpetually finding the discipline of grace for the learning curve that the gauntlet of human experience is. Also, I guarantee you that for as much as I’m aware of my imperfections that you are not going to railroad my process to improvement or cause me to misplace my value by complimenting my dress I wore today and I’m sure the same can be said for you (that is if you wear a dress. You get the point I hope). We are all full vessels of insecurity and each a work in progress with the power to encourage one another despite of what haunts us about ourselves. So choose to be the person to shine light in those dark valleys of insecurity in another’s life by praising the beauty and the good. Have grace for yourself in your acknowledgement of what you see needs some repair in you.
Seek the praise to give to a stranger, your spouse, your children and your friends. Be authentic in what you see in them whether it’s their sweet smile, hairstyle, talents and admirable character. Don’t withhold what you can give and be generous always.
With so much love,