I wrote this for my church’s Marriage & Family blog, but thought I’d share it here too. Be encouraged to receive encouragement, autism mamas!
Women can have a hard time receiving compliments. Tell them how gifted they are, and their eyes will dart down, while they deflect the praise. Tell another women how beautiful she looks and she replies that she really needs a haircut right now. And if you compliment the clothes, it’s like a lady is absolutely obligated to tell you that she got them on sale.
Why are our “receivers” so broken?
Could our inner dialogue actually be keeping us from receiving from God too? Think about it. If someone tells you something great about you, and your gut reaction is to say or think, “No I’m not,” perhaps you’re not able to see yourself how God sees you either.
I was talking with my 16-year-old niece recently and realized this generation is not exempt. She is a breathtaking artist, poet and dancer. Her natural giftedness mixed with perseverance to hone her skills could launch her into an amazing destiny. She doesn’t know it. She’s insecure and compares herself to others. She goes into perfection mode and is always trying to prove herself. As I wrapped my arms around her and told her all the good things I saw in her, she said, “Really? But…” The list flowed out of her like liquid about all that she wasn’t.
Does any of that sound familiar to you—mom, wife, daughter, worker? I remembered a little tip I learned back in the days when I used to do drama sketches at church and shared it with my niece: “When someone gives you a compliment, simply say ‘Thank you’—no more, no less. And in your mind say ‘I agree,’ and thank the Lord for growing or encouraging you.”
I continued, “If someone offers you feedback that’s maybe hard to hear, be teachable enough to ask ‘Do I let that go, or is there a nugget of truth I need to take from that?’”
That posture frees something up in you. A couple of years ago, I came to a startling realization that I was in heavy performance and striving mode with God and others. While I worshipping at a church conference, one simple shift broke something inside of me. We sang this really beautiful song to God (I don’t even remember what it was) about how lovely he is, beautiful, worthy, holy—those words passionately rolled off my lips… and then the worship leader said, “Now sing that again, but now imagine God is singing those words to YOU.”
The tears just flowed from my eyes. “Tahni, you are beautiful, worthy, holy, and I love you.”
Whoa, why did I need to hear that so much? Why do you need to hear it so much? I’m learning we have to know what God thinks about us, or we’re toast. False humility has gripped Christians for centuries. The idea that we have to perform, or perfect, or try to impress God into being proud of us is just keeping us down.
Learning to step in to all that God says we already are is where it’s at. When you get a picture of yourself in Christ, those compliments will be received for the encouragement that they are.
“I desire for you to become intimately acquainted with the love of Christ on the deepest possible level, far beyond the reach of a mere academic, intellectual grasp. Within the scope of this equation God finds the ultimate expression of Himself in you (so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God). We celebrate Him who super charges us powerfully from within. Our biggest request or most amazing dream cannot match the extravagant proportion of His thoughts towards us.” Eph. 3:20 (The Mirror Translation)