Okay, I’m wrecked, totally ruined, all because of a sincere compliment. I don’t take compliments well. You know, with humility? The other day one of my Facebook friends commented on one of my posts. She said she looked forward to what I post each day. A really nice thing to say right? I got the same compliment once before from another friend and both times I reacted the same way. I reacted by thinking, well of course you look forward to my brilliant and witty posts. No one can wax poetic about the mundane comings and goings of a day like me right? I mean I do put thought into each post. I’m not the guy that posts “Just had Subway for lunch.” I’m the guy that digs deep into the theology of my sandwich topping choices. The guy that makes everyone re-think why they had what they had for lunch, and what that says about them, what it says about humanity really. All with a humorous twist that leaves my readers giggling and replying with their little LOL’s in the end.
Yes of course she looks forward to my Facebook posts, because I am going to be a great writer one day right? She’ll one day stand in the long line at the local Barnes and Nobles for my book signing, and say to the others in line, “I’ve been a fan of Aaron’s since his Facebook days.” The other autograph hounds will envy her for our ongoing digital relationship.
Sure you can shame me for my inflated ego, and deservedly so. I tend to think that I’m more brilliant and talented than I actually am, and that’s on a day without a compliment. Who else can do something like go to the mall to buy a shirt, and turn that into an interesting story stereotyping the walking patterns of the patrons there? Who else has opinions on virtually every subject that are always right?
Now I don’t want you to think I’m always so full of myself. I have tasted humility on many occasions, but humility is a slippery creature, a greased pig. Likewise pride is a two headed snake. Just when I manage to cut off one head, I stand tall raising it’s carcass over my head boasting in triumph, as the other end reaches around and bites me. Pride is always there waiting to pounce, waiting to tell me I’m smarter, funnier or more talented than I really am.
Throughout my adult years I’ve at times thought what a shame it was that I wasn’t raised in a home where education was promoted, Had I been pushed past my laziness I’ve believed I could have been a really good student. That was never the case for me, and I coasted through school. In this fantasy of mine, had there been a more watchful eye on my academic life the sky would have been the limit really. I could have been a lawyer. I could have been a doctor. I could have been a contender! Those are the thoughts I’ve had about myself over the years. What a shame that Dr. Aaron had to settle for a career in the embroidery industry. Just think of all the lives I could have saved!
A sobering moment came once when I made a mistake at work. I emailed a file to a customer in the wrong format. Well, actually I’d sent that particular customer the wrong format the last half dozen times or so. They were getting pretty ticked off. I kept making the same stupid brainless mistake over and over. An associate of mine asked what on Earth was wrong with me? I didn’t know. I knew better than to send that type of file to that customer, but unexplainably I kept repeating my mistake. Stupid, little, forgetful mistakes are actually common for me. Always have been. So in a sudden moment of clarity I realized that if I had indeed become a doctor, I would have killed someone by now. Probably a whole bunch of someones. The realization came that perhaps I’m not smart enough to be anything I might want to be.
The same goes for my writing. I have moments where words seem to gush out, depth of insight pour out, humor mingles with the heart strings. That’s when my ego tends to sing out that these precious words are all mine. They are being released from out of my mind and soul, and appearing on my PC screen will be my greatest writing achievement yet. Words that will inspire, change lives, and glorify… me. And then too often I’ll revisit those same words days later, and I can’t even understand what I had been trying to say when I wrote it. Somehow it’s muddled and falls short of profound, and all my jokes seem corny and forced. I’m humbled, and at times suffer feelings of inadequacy. Inadequacy, which is simply an instrument and ally of pride.
Perhaps my level of intelligence and ability doesn’t exceed much more than witty Facebook posts. Speaking of which, since my friend was kind enough to compliment me, I haven’t been able to think of a single intelligent thought to post there. The best I’ve come up with since was “I like bubble gum,” so I guess I’ve been humbled a bit. I remember the Bible verse that states just how it is that God mocks the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Grace, I suppose is the sweetening ingredient of the humble pie I’m currently feasting on.
However, through humility come moments of real clarity, and I realize that anything I have or produce of true worth comes from God. His Holy Spirit flooding through the quirky mind the Father gave me. I’m reminded that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. I totally qualify as a foolish thing! My foolishness in my hands for my glory? Worthless. My foolishness in His hands for His glory on the other hand can do great things. I pray for a heart that doesn’t have the need to take credit for what’s successful, nor take the blame for what doesn’t stack up. I pray for a humility that rests on me, instead of squirms away.
God made us to be creators that we might be inspired to hammer out a thing, not to lift it up to the world and say, “Look at what I did!” He made us creators that we might offer up to him our efforts. We are to look to him and say, “Here, Daddy God. I made this for you.” Some of those efforts it would seem he joyfully takes and puts in his pocket, while others he seems to place on display. Regardless, they are to be for him, from us. As any father who receives a work of art from their child, God doesn’t judge the piece on the merits that the world does. He simply sees that his child made it especially for him.