The other day, someone was speaking highly about a skill I have while I was in the room, and I felt uncomfortable.
I felt awkwardly caught in the headlights!
The issue wasn’t that I had overheard, because the person knew I was there.
The real issue?
I am not used to praise and compliments, especially in public.
I had a normal upbringing, but as I entertained myself pretty well (as readers and kids on bikes tend to do) I didn’t tend to be on my parents’ radar much unless i did something wrong. Which, like any normal kid does, I did.
Both my parents were raised with the same style of parenting. Other than I love you’s, there wasn’t much verbal encouragement unless it was related to grades, again very normal for that generation, and NOT a negative reflection on my parents. Just an observation.
The result in my mind? When I did get called on my behaviour, it felt like being in the principal’s office waiting for the chastisement to begin. Which is now sort of funny, because as a singer and musician, I am used to being seen…. but I am not a head right for the spotlight kinda gal
As a result, I have had a hard time with criticism, as I didn’t often get its counterpart of encouragement. If you offer it publicly, I used to be even worse accepting it. Occasionally even full blown panic attacks. If it was written down, not so bad, as I could digest it in private.
I did have a few teachers who tried to build me up, but to a kid who doesn’t get a lot of attention unless its negative (again, my perception) I didn’t really know what to do with it.
Into the locker of my brain it went.
As a young adult, I grew a hard skin to compensate, until I ran head first right into His embrace.
God’s words bypassed my hardened shell and shot into my heart, so I was able to receive the words of love and hope He had for me, and could accept the promise of restoration.
Fast forward to my marriage.
To a man who got no attention unless it was negative.
See the pattern here?
I got some counseling & mentoring over the years, but nothing seemed to come close to this issue.
Three years ago, I started working for my first really encouraging boss. On a regular basis, this person tries to speak encouragement to keep using your gifts, his appreciation for the hard work we do, and general blessing. A year later, I began working for another boss, who has a similar thankful & encouraging style.
More encouragement started being spoken to me on a regular basis, but usually on a small scale.
Last year, I added a few more freelance bosses as i began to run my own small business, and each of them has also been a blessing, and express gratitude.
I am very grateful to God for the blessing it is to have such great people to work for and with. It has taken almost 3 years for me to accept verbal kind words my direction.
Then the worst thing (in my imagination) happened to me just over a month ago.
I was sitting in a prophetic service (which I am fine with, btw!) where the pastor began publicly sharing the words He was sharing through him.
All of a sudden my heart started racing, and I clearly heard “He is going to speak to you next.”
I am so thankful God gave me the heads up, because if He hadn’t I would have missed what was said in my shock at being singled out.
Coz the word was so encouraging.
And God knew I needed to hear it out loud, in front of witnesses.
Because not only did it answer a question I had, but it released something in the heavenlies.
I don’t need to be afraid any longer of every word I am about to hear being a negative one.
God has been using others and His word to remind me I do have good characteristics & skills, which has helped me become more balanced in my own thinking about myself.
I still need correction, as we all do. Now, I can take it as a part of the picture, instead of perceiving every thing to be a mountain out of a molehill. And I am getting used to it coming out in ways I cannot always expect.
I have learned I don’t want to limit how God wants to encourage or bless me, and as I trust Him more, He reassures my heart as to who i am to Him.
And the fear begins to ebb, and I can take in what He wants me to hear and learn.