What a Life! for March 7-11, 2007

Mar. Theatre
March 5, 2007
Harry Smith
March 7, 2007

Someone once said that humility is truth. When we practice the virtue of humility, we do not put ourselves down or deny our gifts or talents. Humble persons recognize their own gifts and abilities. Simultaneously, they realize their shortcomings and limitations. They thank God for their gifts and talents and are not envious of someone else’s virtues and good fortunes. Humble people accept themselves as they are n not more, not less.

Laura Doyle wrote an article entitled, Can’t You Accept a Compliment? She writes, “Accepting compliments and other gifts often makes us uncomfortable because we are not in charge. Receiving is, by its very nature, passive. We don’t ask for compliments and so, when they arrive, we may feel as if someone just made us appear immodest. Or we may fear that an unsolicited offer to help means that someone perceives us as weak.

“My wanting to maintain a sense of control caused me to reject the things that women like to receive n compliments, apologies, help, gifts, and emotional support. I bucked up when I was overwhelmed instead of leaning on a friend because I imagined that doing so would threaten my independence. I hid my sad feelings because I didn’t want to be perceived as weak or emotional. I avoided people who would have gladly supported me when I felt vulnerable because I worried that they might see an Achilles heel and, who knows, use it against me some day, which, of course, was unlikely.

“At the root of my discomfort when anyone gave me something before I became a good receiver was fear of being out of control. To receive, I had to give up control, if only for a moment, which fueled my fear by reminding me that life is unpredictable and would not always go according to my tidy plans. Most frightening of all was the thought that their praises would betray what I believed about myself, like when John said I looked beautiful that morning before my important meeting and I just felt stiff and frumpy in my old suit. Hearing something that contradicted my feelings about myself made me fear I was being patronized or mocked. I mistrusted his compliment because I was so sure it was not true.

“My desire to be in control was costly. It cost me the opportunity to receive compliments, gifts, help and many other things I like. But the highest piece I paid was in losing the emotional connections we gain when someone gives us something. Intimacy is forged when we are pleasantly surprised by getting something we didn’t expect. The level of intimacy I missed varied depending on my relationship with the giver, but on lots of occasions I passed up a pleasant connection that would have made both my life and someone else’s sweeter.

“Feeling a part of the community is important to your happiness and well-being, which is what happens when you receive from everyone in your community n even if it’s just a neighborhood vendor.”

Humility is truth. Although Jesus is quoted in Acts as saying that it was better to give than to receive, sometimes the opposite is true n it is better to receive than to be always giving. We have to be open to receive. Receiving can make us vulnerable. When we give, we are in control. When we receive, we concede that we are not in control. Accepting a compliment or a gift can be a way of realizing our own need for others and to be comfortable with that need. Yet, we never want to develop dependency. That is dysfunctional. We also do not want to assume the illusion that we are independent. We need each other. We are all interdependent. That’s the way God wants it.