I Believe In Me

Before clicking on the link below I do feel I need to warn you that it is a little “risque”.

One day last week I stumbled upon the “Pretty Woman” movie on TV.  It had been a long time since I had last seen it so I watched while doing a few things around the house.  When the scene above came on it really grabbed my attention.  At first it was the fact they were in bed and it just caught me off guard but it was the dialogue that made me continue to watch.  Two lines stood out in particular.  “People put you down enough you start to believe it” and the line “The bad stuff is easier to believe”.  It stung me.  I literally said out loud, “oh, wow”.

Reflecting back to my childhood I struggle to remember the compliments.  They were there but I really have to think hard to pull them out of my mind.  The negatives, however, stand out clearly.  I was encouraged to go to college but I sometimes got the feeling that it was for bragging rights to friends not because of my merits.  My art work gained me an occasional “that’s nice” but nothing more.  One time I mentioned entering the school’s beauty pageant (I know you just giggled) but my mom told me I didn’t have a chance with “the way I walked”.  I do want to preface this with the fact that my parents were much older when they had me and had already raised two children before I was a teen.  Their life was much harder.  Discipline meant love and bragging only made a child spoiled and soft.    They never stood in the way of my dreams and when I asked if I could spend a month in London during my Freshman year, after a lot of discussion, they borrowed the money and sent me over the ocean.  I understand were they were coming from now but as a teenage girl it was hard to grasp.  Self-motivation was, however, hard to hold on to so I grabbed the one trait I had I knew I could count on then: stubbornness.

I remember a certain elementary teacher telling me I would never amount to anything; in front of the whole class.  She continued to say how I needed to grow up and some day act like a girl.  I was so embarrassed.  I refused to do math homework from then on even though she would pull me in front of the class and paddle me for not having it (I am so old we still did that).  I was laughed at by another school official when I told him of my plans to attend college after high school.  Sure, I didn’t always apply myself but I always believed I could.

The day came when I graduated high school with a wonderful class rank of 29 out of 99 and my SAT scores were barely average.  No scholarship offers there but I was accepted and attended college anyway.  Time to move away from home.  The year was harsh.  The professors heard my mountain accent and saw my horrible writing and I was again labeled. I can recall my art critiques and the papers I wrote.  I was so far behind on the very first day.   I didn’t know what the others in my class already knew.  The professors would openly call my artwork “crap” and my English professor said he could tell where I was from by my poor writing.  I would get people to proof read for me and sometimes they would just tell me “it might be easier to start over”.  Every now and then I would believe them.  When I got tired of feeling so dumb I would stubborn up and dig in again.  It was a cycle.  One that followed me into my career later as a teacher.

It was much later in life that I finally broke the cycle of stupid.  The first thing was I fell in love and married a man that has never put me down or made me feel less than an intelligent and completely capable woman.  The second thing was when I really and completely got what Christ says about me.  It ended those cycles.  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”- Psalm 139:14  I don’t think we think about ourselves as part of His works.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”- Ephesians 1:7,8 Lavish means to bestow in generous and extravagant quantities.

So I say stubborn up and believe in you.  Christ does.  He died on a cross believing in you.

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Victory

I am still feeling the wonderful after effects of victory.  After battling all the decisions and time that went into making my thorned guitar which, I revealed last week, I have spent this week soaking up a since of accomplishment.  I can’t describe the natural high I get hearing it played and seeing it complete.  I am trying to stay humble but I will say all the compliments have been so encouraging. It has inspired me so that I have not been idle.  I have found my next one and started a two-dimensional piece as well (more on those next week).

I have always tried to answer a compliment with something like, “thank you it’s not that hard” or “I still have a lot to learn” or “you should see…”  or even “but did you see the problem with”. Sometimes I even start pointing out the mistakes in the piece.  Why did I think that humility meant lowering myself, elevating someone else or deferring the conversation.  Could it be that I love being affirmed so much it scared me?  I didn’t want to be arrogant or obnoxious but where do you draw the line.  How can an artist be confident and promote themselves without being too overwhelming or boystrious?  Well, now that I am a mature woman here is what I have learned.

If someone gives you a compliment you must accept it in its entirety.  It is a gift given to you and should not be returned. You should not try to best their gift by giving them a bigger compliment either.  Allow them to bless you and always say thank you without a but at the end.  No pun entended.

Next, never point out your mistakes when receiving a compliment.  I have mentioned this before.  Focusing on the negatives only brings you to a negative focus.  I know that is redundant but it is true. The complimenter is enjoying something you did so don’t ruin it for them. It reminds me of when you go to a movie and with no knowledge of the story you leave the theatre thinking how much you enjoyed it. Then your book nerd friends start trashing it. Before you didn’t care that the main character was suppose to have blonde hair or that there were not suppose to be an elven heroine.

Lastly, deferring is disrespectful to the giver of the compliment.  They are complimenting you and not someone or anything else.  Be respectful and accept it for goodness sake.  There is no arrogance in that.

You can live in victory each day without coming across as boastful and conceited.  It is victorious confidence that Christ gives us.  Why would we belittle ourselves as less.  As long as we carry ourselves with love first the belief in one’s self will keep us grounded.