It isn’t just fear, shame and judgment that are placed on me. I receive compliments too. People often thank me for something I’ve done or tell me how a certain blog post has impacted their lives. But it’s hard for me to take it in without imagining what they didn’t say. Does that mean they didn’t like the previous posts?
On other occasions, approval can go to my head, and all I think about is how I can get more.
I talked about that too in spiritual direction.
“I had my first day as the new intern facilitator of Living from the Heart,” I said.
Karen smiled. “How was it?”
“Wonderful. Jeff and Deb told me, more than once, how much they enjoy working with me. Ten years ago, Jeff’s book was the first one I read when I began my degree at Regent College and now we are colleagues.”
She waited for me to say more.
“I like these affirmations, and hold onto them tightly. I’m afraid someone is going to come along and say something that will knock my feet out from under me,” I said, feeling tears come.
“And when you imagine Jesus with you?” she asked.
I closed my eyes for a moment and got a sense of what Jesus felt. “He’s thrilled that people see what he sees.”
“So what will you do with their praise?”
Again I closed my eyes and asked Jesus that question. All of a sudden I knew. “It’s dessert,” I said. “I can’t make a steady diet of it, but I can enjoy every bite.”
“It’s sweet,” Karen added.
As I biked home from my spiritual direction session, I wondered how I would wear people’s accolades. I don’t want to reject them like the heavy coats of judgment and shame. But you can’t wear a chocolate ganache tartlet or crème caramel. I suppose compliments are more like hats or scarves. They’re not essential, but they highlight who we are.
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed
like one of these. -Luke 12:27
Esther, thank you. I needed this post. And the previous one. And the one I’ve been hanging out in all week with the marvellously freeing thought, “She who hesitates is not lost. She is in God.” I’m new to your blog—I looked it up after Karen mentioned that we’d be driving together tomorrow—and I’ll be back here often. This is a place of rest, of space to be human and loved, of coming empty and leaving full—or of coming full of things that weigh heavy and leaving lighter. Thank you so much for this gift. I look forward to meeting you.
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Thanks so much, Carolyn. I’m looking forward to meeting you and reading more on your blog.
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