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Jonathon and I had a conversation the other night that has been niggling me ever since. We had just watched Big Hero 6 and somehow we got onto this topic. In Big Hero 6, Hiro, the main character, turns his brainy friends into superheros.  He plays up their strengths. Their abilities, like laser hands and super speed on wheels, stem from their interests and abilities. Hiro doesn’t try to change his friends; he works with their passions. We started discussing how we handle compliments.

“I don’t think people have an agenda or angle when they compliment me,” I said. “But I always filter them.”

He thought that strange.

“Why?”

It stumped me momentarily. Well, any woman can tell you why.  Because, deep down, we don’t believe we’re that fabulous.  Someone out there, in our circle of acquaintance or beyond, has nicer hair or prettier eyes or a smaller waist or whatever. We know better.  At least, we think we do. Besides, to admit our own awesomeness would be prideful.  Right?

Jonathon understood.

“But what if we truly took compliments at face value. We believed what people said about us, as is, no questions asked.  The good things, of course. What then?”

He paused.

“Wouldn’t we be unstoppable?”

I thought about Ruby.  Ruby believes me when I tell her she’s beautiful. She knows she’s smart and funny and creative, all that plus a thousand other things. Because she holds onto those good things, she has very few hang-ups. Does she keep her room clean?  No. But that’s another issue.

It hit me. Yes. We would be unstoppable. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself running and running and not wearing out. I thought of all the things I love to do – singing, writing, baking, encouraging others – all at peak capacity.

He went on. “We can’t be doing the Father’s business if we’re so busy beating ourselves up for our faults.”

The friends in Big Hero 6 succeeded as a team because they used their strengths and worked together. They didn’t try to do or be something they weren’t and they didn’t compete with each other. I know this isn’t a new idea from me, but the perspective shift to what can I bring to the table, is new.

So right here and now, I want to say thanks for the compliments over the years.  Some have come to me in person and some online. I appreciate it.  I’m gonna start holding onto them. I may even write them down. Our words have great power, to build up and to tear down.  I want to keep the edifying ones.

If we truly loved ourselves, warts and all, what then?

Look out.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8

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