How to Accept a Compliment Even When Your “Art” is Imperfect

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How many of us have heard it before, “You’re so strong!” “You’re so amazing!” “I’m so impressed with you.” “You’re such a wonderful parent.”

I’m sure, for each time we’ve heard this from someone praising our work as a single parent, as a member of the Church, or shaking our hand after we’ve given a talk or completed an assignment, we reply,

“No, it was really nothing. I’m not really that strong. I’m not amazing. Actually, I could have done so much better. I’m just barely keeping it together for the kids.”

Even if we don’t say it out loud, many times we end up thinking it in our minds. We know we could do more, or we know someone else could have performed better.

It’s hard sometimes to learn to allow people to grant us the praise. It can be difficult when someone says, “Thank you.” But learning to see things from their perspective may help us accept that praise they offer. A friend helped provide some clarity on this for me.

You see, in life, we are all artists, creating the sculpture, the painting, the work that is our life.

We select the best tools we have and we give it our utmost effort, based on a concept we have in our minds. As we work, we compare our progress to that perfect ideal we have in our head. We see so much what we want and we strive to shape our lives, our art accordingly.

But this world is not ideal.

Our imperfect hands tremor a bit here. The chisel slides a bit there. A drop of paint splatters on the canvas far from where we expected. And the lighting we expected to showcase our work just can’t quite match the brightness we see in our minds.

We may grow frustrated with our efforts, and some may even despair. My brothers and sisters, we should not give up creating. Ever! Our strivings and our efforts bear fruit, no matter how meager it may seem to us.

The servant given two talents received the same reward from the master as the servant given five talents. Both were acknowledged as “good and faithful servant[s].”

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And the things we may not appreciate about ourselves and our lives, our art, are the very things others will see and thank us for. We need to remember, what other people see is what we’ve actually created, uncolored by the idea of what is ‘supposed’ to be there.

The piece that we present to the world IS strong, amazing, impressive and wonderful.

But many times we can’t see it. All we see is the perfect concept in our heads, and how this piece that we’ve created doesn’t quite measure up.

As we create our lives, remember also that we all have a different style, a different medium that we use.

You could not expect a poet to create a dazzling portrait, nor a painter to write a concerto, or a sculptor to deliver a polished speech. So too we should not compare our life and our work to someone else.

We all have our strengths, and we are all needed.

President Uchtdorf reminds us, “In the great Composer’s symphony, you have your own particular part to play.” When someone compliments your efforts and your successes, please be kind … to yourself. Accept that compliment and know that what you have created, as imperfect as you think it is, is something beautiful.

Your work, your art, your life is strong, amazing, impressive, and wonderful.

YOU are strong. You are amazing. You are impressive. You are wonderful. Please recognize that, as a beloved son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father, we all deserve praise.

So accept that compliment, smile and say simply, “Thank you.”



About the Author-   Chris Bondurant is an adult convert to the Church and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is an enlightened red-neck/polyhistor who enjoys living, learning, growing and improving his life, and helping others do the same.

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