This past weekend, we hosted the family birthday party for all of the children who were born in August. My aunt was here as were my brother's family and my mom (from Oklahoma City!). Saturday afternoon was fun as the children chased each other from room to room, up and down the stairs, and played non-stop with balloons. (I could save a fortune on toys if I just gave them balloons.)
It was halfway through my mother's visit that I realized that I don't know how to take a compliment. She was telling me for the 10th time how much she loved our house. "It's so pretty and big," she gushed.
I heard myself reply with my automatic response, "It's not really ours mom. We're just renting it." When she said how attractive the woodwork was, I told her how it was nothing really special, all my neighbors have the identical trim in their homes and that 20% of the houses around here are the same floor plan.
The more she complimented me, the more I deflected it.
It wasn't just her. I did the same thing a few weeks ago when my sister-in-law and her children came to stay, steadfastly downplaying the neighborhood pool and the spaciousness of the house. (Which is big, so why can't I let her acknowledge it?)
When my aunt remarked on how polite the children were, and my mom complimented their behavior, I let it slide on past me as I said "Sure they're being good now, but just wait a few minutes." and then we all laughed.
I've been soul searching ever since. Why can't I take a compliment? What would be wrong with saying "thank you" and simply accepting their kind words? Why does that make me so uncomfortable? How is it that I can so readily accept nastiness from family members which would reduce most people to tears and yet a couple kind words make me want to hide?
I've made a resolution for this week (one at a time until it becomes habit) of simply saying "thank you" and not rebutting the nice things people say. It's okay for people to be kind. It's fine for them to be complimentary. It's not a bad thing for folks to be admiring of the things and the family we have worked so hard to achieve.
I was raised to not "put on airs" and put myself above anyone else. I lost count of how many times I was reminded that I was no better than anyone else so not to be stuck up. The result was that I can not accept a compliment for the kindness that it is and in the end, the people I end up being unkind to are the people in my house who deserve the praise. My husband has provided us with a lovely home. He works very hard so that we can live in this neighborhood with all the comforts which come with living here. My children are well behaved the vast majority of the time. They put a lot of effort into the way they act around other people. It is wrong of me to tear them down when someone notices what good jobs they are doing just because the praise makes me uncomfortable.
I just need to learn to be grateful, to other people for their kind words and to God for His many blessings; because the thing I've forgotten in my busy life is that these things are from Above and in not accepting their kind words I'm missing out on the opportunity to sing the praises of the One who made it all possible.