Monday, October 20, 2014

Self-perfection

"If I had a nose like Alice Bell...oh I shouldn't say that. I was comparing it to my own nose, and that is uncharitable. Someone complimented me on my nose once, and I"m afraid I've thought about it far too much." (Anne of Green Gables)

No, no one has ever complimented ME on my nose. (Obviously. I have a Bausum nose, and that is enough to exclude it from compliment-worthiness.) 

But compliments, in general, that have been thought about far too much...yeah, that rings a bell.

A friend once told me I had nice armpits. Promise. It was the weirdest compliment I've ever received. I never before knew that armpits were something that could gain admiration. But now that I know...now I check my armpits for un-admirable sights before I leave the house. This particular compliment is one of my favorites, because it still makes me giggle, and then check for pit-falls (see what I did there?) I've clearly "thought about it far too much."

Another favorite compliment of mine: Someone once told me that I am a very self-aware person. (I always thought of it as self-deprecating, but self-aware sounds cooler somehow.) I take that to mean that I am AWARE of my flaws. And I am. Promise.

For example, I totally know that I am loud.

I know that I have a brain-to-mouth filter with a serious mechanical malfunction.

I am aware of the fact that I am sarcastic.

And crabby before coffee.

And a terrible, terrible dancer.

And not very compassionate by nature.

Or merciful.

Or sweet.

Or able to easily conceal my true feelings on a subject. (because of the malfunctioning filter, so technically NOT my fault.)

I know that kids think I'm mean. I am never intentionally mean, but I am frank, and cut-to-the-chase, and kids think that's mean. I am aware of that.

I am aware that I am a polarizing personality. I have people in my life who really love me, and people in my life who really don't like me much. Even if they never say so...I am aware.

You would think all this self-awareness would be accompanied by self-acceptance...

You would think.

But even though I know the things that are less-than-likable about me, (and I am even the first person to point them out most of the time, just in case anyone was wondering if I KNEW a particular disgraceful tidbit about what makes me...me...) Even still...

Just like the compliments seep in, and are thought about far too much, so too are the opposite-of-compliment comments.

Those are even harder not to dwell on.

And, in all objectivity, I can, (because I am self aware, duh) see the point being made, and accept my flaws as a person, and concede that I screw up with regularity, and even understand that the opposite-of-compliment points are only going to help me in the long run.

And still I find myself reeling.

Which makes no sense.

Because I'm already aware of the fact that I'm difficult to like, and hard to understand. And while I am accepted by some, I am held-at-arms-length by others, and because I am a forthright person who embraces total openness (and I'm pretty sure that's a flaw, not an asset) I inadvertently open myself up to opposite-of-complimentary comments. 

I deserve it, my husband points out frankly. If only I could fix the mechanically malfunctioning filter! I would be less likely to reference something someone might judge me for, or dislike me because of, or find appalling.

But...

Then I would be less KNOWN.

Hmm. More accepted. But less known.

How can those be my only options?

And the reeling has led to some pretty intense emotions, let me tell you. And some serious self-recrimination. And some grueling self-evaluation. And self-awareness has been replaced by self-judgement.

Because if SO MANY people have more things to dislike about me than like...clearly it can't be ALL them that are mistaken.

And I promise, honest to goodness, that I am not fishing for more compliments here. (Unless you want to tell me I have nice earlobes or something.)

I'm actually arriving at the point, and am just taking a round-about detour before coming to it, because another flaw of mine is being long winded. 

One of the people in my life who has decided to love me despite the afore-mentioned laundry list of flaws, told me something this week, and its the thing that has helped the most in settling the reeling self-awareness-turned-self-browbeating.

"Remember who you are." (oh man, I cannot resist the urge to pause for a "Name that movie" trivia...it's from The Lion King. Did you get it right? My kids all did, btw.)

"Remember WHOSE you are."
"Remember what He says about you."

Those words are pinging around inside me with all the others. And they are having a calming effect on my reeling emotions.

Because what HE says about me...its the longest list of the most unbelievable compliments. He says I'm lovely, and worthy, and sacred, and wonderful, and treasured, and fought for, and worth dying for, and redeemed, and grafted in to the Royal Family of Heaven, and protected, and...

It's enough. 

It really is.

The other stuff is all still true. I'm a mess. I'm a screw-up. I'm unmerciful and I lack compassion.

But you know what?

I am more merciful and compassionate than I was 15 years ago.

And I am actively working on the mechanical malfunctioning of my brain-to-mouth filter.

The One to whom I belong is still working on me.
And He's working out His perfect will IN me.

And while I am acutely aware of my imperfections and flaws, I am also glowingly accepting of the fact that He still wants me to bear His name, and carry His heart, despite all the additional junk I carry with me.

And He's whittling away at that junk, and someday, when I'm very old and wrinkled and totally aware of the fact that I am very old and wrinkled...someday He will finish His work in me. And I will meet Him face to face.

Until then, I'm a mess in progress. And I'm aware of it. Tell me, if you want to, that something in my life needs work. I am in total agreement with you. LOTS of stuff in my life needs work.

And...He says I'm perfect to be His child.

"He forever made perfect those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:14

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