Words of affirmation

Gianna Caravetta | Opinion Editor | @giannacara

I’m one of the worst at accepting words of affirmation.

When someone I love and deeply care about greets me with any sort of compliment, I am instantly in dismay and unbelief. For some reason, I can’t find it in me to accept it as an expression of love and genuine affirmation.

I insist to my friends, family, and loved ones that any kind word sent my way is unwarranted, that I am unworthy and undeserving. That hairstyle you complimented, I almost gave up on this morning because I was going to be late, and it wouldn’t cooperate. That outfit you loved, I was hoping no one would notice I wore it last week with different shoes. Yes, like the effortlessly beautiful Lizzie McGuire, I am an outfit repeater.

Believing I’m loved and affirmed is another story, one infused with the seemingly antithetical siblings of confidence and humility. If you know you look good, you’re too abrasively confident and lacking in humility. If you can’t seem to be appreciative of compliments, you’re lacking in confidence and too humble. These two don’t have to be at odds; they can coexist. Humility, at its core, is about knowing who and what you are. Confidence is about believing in who and what you are.

When we receive kind words of affirmation, we must not write them off as unsuitable for the broken, imperfect you. It’s baffling to accept a compliment when you aren’t feeling it. Add some grace to it, and it seems more manageable. We are all worth so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

This journey of life we all share is messy and chaotic, but it’s also one with great joy. When our lives reflect the brokenness many of us know far too well, we get swept up in a pervasive, negative self-concept. We cannot possibly be attractive enough, put together enough, or confident enough to own our flaws and imperfections for what they are, a holistic beauty.

In a world where we constantly gossip about other people’s dirty laundry, focus on the negative, and reject any nicety that comes our way, dare to be different. Boldly accept a compliment with grace and humility. Don’t forget how amazing and worthy you are. You can’t possibly love someone else until you can profoundly love how wonderful you are as you are.

When we learn to accept words of affirmation with humility, we leave room for a whole lot of grace. This is a daily struggle for me too, but I’m a work in progress. We all are. Give yourself some credit. As the psalmist said in Psalm 139, we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God doesn’t make mistakes.

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