Daily Devotions

Can You Handle a Compliment?

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Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth,… (Isaiah 54:4)

Why is it that we can get 50 compliments, but still only focus on the one criticism? It takes courage to put yourself out there. It also takes determination to try, struggle, fail and succeed, over and over again, while under the watchful eye of others. I believe most people never get their life off the ground because the one criticism was so loud, it drowned out the 50 compliments.

Sadly, some people never get the opportunity to even fail. When I was a sophomore in high school, I knew a girl who made all the wrong decisions. I really liked her, and I believe she liked me, but suddenly she chose to go out with a 20-something guy who abused her. About a year and a half later, I heard she had been abused long before the poor choice in boy/man-friend. Her life had been destroyed far too young and she was left without the benefit of compliments. On and off, throughout my life, I’ve prayed for her, not knowing – and fearing –  how her life played out.

It is incumbent upon all people of faith to nurture and protect those around us, especially our children. We’ve been taught that pride is such an evil that we’ve not given people the tools for a proper sense of self. Far too often we’ve taught our children humility and it has looked too much like humiliation. In the process, we are unable to appreciate our compliments, and obsess on our criticism. You are invaluable as a child of God, and worthy of God’s attention and care.

Today, begin by praying for your own struggles with success and failure. Ask God to see yourself as God sees you. For most of us, arrogance is not as big an obstacle as shame. Then, pray for those in your life and in your history, who were not given the opportunity to find compliments in their lives. Pray for God to lift them up, for they too are children of the living God. Finally, don’t just pray, think about how you can practice accepting compliments and cherishing them in your heart, while also hearing criticisms and learning from them, without obsessing on them. The more we are able to address compliments and criticisms, the more we are healthy enough to fulfill God’s Divine call for our lives.

A Letter to God

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“…so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)

Dear God,

I must begin by saying “I’m sorry.” I haven’t lived my life well enough for others to want to follow in my footsteps of faith. I made being a follower of yours too painful, and not enough fun. I worked too hard in some areas, while not enough in others. This was less a mistake of judgment, and more a mistake of not following your guidance which is ever before me.

“I’m sorry,” because I thought your path was so difficult that I required time away from you, which is the greatest sin. I should have treated my life’s actions in such a way that having you with me every moment should not have felt like a burden. I wish I had developed a spiritual life so intense that every breath I have taken exhaled impurity and inhaled your Holy Spirit. But alas, no matter how hard I try, I do not find the spiritual discipline necessary to become truly one with you.

Yet, dear God, you did not make us to wallow in regret too long. After the recognition for our unworthiness and need for something beyond ourselves, we can turn to the recognition that you continue to care for us and provide new opportunities to transform our lives. As people of faith, our “sorry” must always end with “thank you.” Thank you for all the direction you have provided, and the ministry you have allowed us to participate in achieving. Even if we have spent far too much time ignoring you up to this point in our lives, at least we are able to say “thank you” for not forgetting us, but to live up to your baptismal covenant to remember us and call us home.

Today, dear God, help us find some time to reflect on our lives thus far. Challenge us to ask where our lives, require an, “I’m sorry.” Give us the faith and trust to offer them, and then move forward by also offering you the vitally important, “thank you.” Help us remember the times you have guided and even carried us. Then, remind us of your unending love and continued care. Finally, renew our commitment to at least try to breath in the Holy Spirit throughout your day. While we will never fully achieve this goal, even trying honors you and brings joy and peace to our soul.

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