Don’t you love the sound of that word; priggish? I assumes it’s where we got the word most of us are more familiar with: prick.
This is a bit of a follow up thought to a conversation my dear friend Hearthie and I have had numerous times over the past few years. This is just one instance. The issue of what she calls “survivor’s guilt” and what I have questioned as an undeserved life of an abundant amount of love.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote:
When I considered my friend’s sincere desire that I not underestimate what I bring to the table, for a split second I wondered if perhaps my near constant desire to exalt him means I am devaluing myself. Then it hit me: No.
Appreciating and relishing being loved by one who is excellent and worthy of praise humbles us, or it should.
My father was that rare combination of unabashed confidence and unquestioned humility. My man is more a combination of unabashed confidence and unrivaled compassion. Both combinations are great examples of people who appreciate that they have worked hard for what they achieved in their lives but without a smug sense of superiority over others.
These are examples I carry close to my heart and as the Scriptures says: Out of the abundnceof the heart, the mouth speaks. When yet another friend says “Don’t discount the good choices you made to have the life you enjoy”, I appreciate those words. It’s not my intent to dismiss them as one who can’t take a compliment
It is, however, much easier for me to accept a compliment on a dress, shoes or my hair than it is to allow myself to to indulge in the thought that I deserve a good life because of my wonderfulness. To take credit for it makes me uncomfortable and opens the door to judgement an a feeling of superiority. Not to mention taking glory for myself that rightfully belongs to Another.
We Americans are addicted to taking credit. I am not immune to it, and I used to like the saying attributed to Bear Bryant: “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” The longer I live, however, the more joy I get from giving honor to others, even if partial credit for something is genuinely mine.
That isn’t to say we are to lie about what we’ve done good or right. For me, however, the acknowledgement of the contributions of others, no matter how simple, who made it possible for me to do or be a thing is important. It also makes for a higher level of peace. I can’t even express the peace that comes with the prayer: ‘Lord, help me get over me.”
It’s absolutely true that there were times when I made choices that led to a better outcome than other choice would have yielded (sometimes the more righteous choice, even), it’s safer and closer to truth to accede that my imperfect yet often charmed life is more touched by uncommon grace and love from those better than me, than made good through my feeble efforts.
If I have to err in this, I’d rather err on the side of being appreciative rather than priggish.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2