As my husband and I were walking to our car a few weeks ago, I was struck by a revelation of sorts: I’m very good at remembering names. It just comes naturally. I don’t say this to toot my own horn, although that would be a pretty obscure skill to brag about. I say this because it is reflective of the pattern of thought that has filled my head since I was young.
Whenever I run into someone I have met before, whether in passing or not, and they have forgotten my name, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Sorry, I’m terrible at remembering names.” Without fail, my response is always, “Oh it’s okay, me too.”
Yet, during this walk to the parking lot, I was struck by the fact that I actually am quite good at remembering names. “Abbie,” a coworker from that part-time summer job four years ago? Yep. “Mr. Graham,” that guy we considered renting an apartment from last year? Sure. “Lauren,” my 20-something sister’s softball teammate from middle school? Of course. Like I said, it just comes naturally.
Weeks passed and I didn’t think much of it until we found ourselves back in the same parking lot. I was in the driver’s seat, which is a bit unusual, and we were approaching an open space in an otherwise crowded lot. Now I would classify myself as an average driver. But parking? I fully acknowledge that there’s some room for improvement. It’s a work in progress.
As I was pulling in, I looked over to my husband and said, “Give me a second. I suck at parking.” This comment was not said in response to anything he said, or even that I was particularly crooked in the space. In fact, I was doing just fine and it was only my own doubts that prompted me to say this. My dear husband had heard enough. “Don’t talk about yourself like that. Whenever you put yourself down like that, you’re insulting the woman I married. And I kinda like her.”
Ouch. Never once had it crossed my mind that putting myself down might also be an insult to anyone else.
More importantly, it struck me that tearing myself down was not only an insult to my husband, but also to my Creator. If we take the Bible at its word, we also have to believe Psalm 139:14 when it says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The quirks and imperfections that make us who we are aren’t there by accident. Even more so, the talents and gifts that He has given us aren’t there for nothing. Rather, we should use those gifts to our advantage and to bring Him glory. Even if it is through something as simple as remembering the name of my cashier at the grocery store.
Christ loves us exactly as we are and highlighting our flaws and downplaying our gifts are a disservice to His talent as a creator. Whether in the name of false modesty, insecurity, or a little bit of both, we end up robbing Him of the credit that He deserves.
So the next time someone offers you a compliment, I hope that you won’t chalk it up to coincidence. It’s genuinely okay to believe someone when they compliment your parenting skills, tell you that you are a good friend, or say that you deserve that promotion. I hope you won’t put yourself down in order to make others feel better. I hope you realize the weight of your words and how they reflect back on your God, your loved ones, and yourself.
I hope you know that you deserve better.