"Great job, Dani! You are awesome!" My boss says loudly as he delivers one of the most painful high fives of my life.
It's at least a weekly occurrence - my boss is lavish with praise.
I squirm inside. I'm uncomfortable with words of affirmation. I deflect them, deny them, I shrug them off so they won't sink in.
"You are so beautiful."
My husband's daily declaration, a blessing over my life, my body.
I squirm. Deny.
"I am honored to serve in church with you," says the youth pastor. "You are such an important part of our team and I can't imagine doing this without you."
It's all I can do to stay still, to nod, to not bolt out the door.
I'm uncomfortable with praise.
It's a strange dichotomy, a catch-22. I both love and loathe myself, Like all people, I long to hear words of praise. I am discontent when my efforts go unnoticed and I crave accolades. And yet I squirm. I reject. I deny and harden so the words roll off my back like water drops.
Do I call this humility? Do I dare?
I sit on the couch, my morning ritual of coffee and the Word, and I try to really listen. I know I'm meant to absorb the words, that these are God's love letter to the world, to me.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. Zep. 3:17
I sit, trying to absorb the words, to absorb the love, and I physically squirm.
Do I dare reject these words, this love? Do I dare to question the value He bestows, to refuse Him when He rejoices over me with loud singing? The doubt is heresy, a rejection of His truth.
I ache inside. It hurts to put aside my thick armor, my shield of low self worth. How can it hurt so much to just accept His love, to let Him whisper "You are worth more to Me than sparrows."
It spills. He captures my tears in a bottle (oh, but it must be a very large jar) and gently He breathes love over me.
Slowly I accept. Stubbornly I release my strong hold, a stronghold of self hate. I dare not reject this praise. No, if I wish to reflect praise back to Him, I cannot make Him a liar.
I am loved, and He is good. It is enough.
Image via Fifty Two Verses