The Difference

Today my soon-to-be-nine-year-old daughter, Critter, asked me in the car if I thought she was a good artist. I replied yes, because I honestly think she has far more artistic talent in her hands than I have in my whole body. Her immediate reaction was, “You’re just saying that because you’re my mom.”

I immediately shot back, “That’s not fair. You don’t get to ask me my opinion and discount it because I’m your mom. Why ask me a question then? Because I’m not going to win no matter what I say. If I say no, I don’t think you are talented artistically, you’ll get offended. But if I say that I believe you are, you don’t believe me. That’s not fair.”

“Well, it’s just that,” she explained, “we’re always taught that we have to put others first and put ourselves last. So I can’t say or believe I’m good at something because that would be putting myself first.”

I didn’t even give it much thought before this just came to me: “There is a difference between putting yourself last and putting yourself down. There is a difference between acknowledging you have a talent and bragging about it. God wants us to acknowledge that we have talents because they’re His gifts to us. And then He wants us to use them to help other people, not just for ourselves. He doesn’t want us to hide our talents under a rock but put them to work in the world. So if you can’t acknowledge that you have gifts, how can you put them to use?”

And then, well, then came the shot. From the other one. The one that reads my heart and sears my soul. “You put yourself down all the time, mom. You don’t believe in your writing talent. You don’t think you have a gift. You’re just like her. You think it’s humility, but it’s just being kind of scared, isn’t it? Because if you admit you have a talent then you have to use it. It’s safer just to think you aren’t talented.”

So. I’m writing this here. To remind myself to use the gifts I’m given. Because putting myself down is not an act of humility. It’s an act of fear. It’s hiding from what I’m called to do, and I can’t do that any more. Too many important eyes are watching.

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