This week I have faced my own mortality.
No, I’m not sick – I am in good health and I praise God for that. But I attended a couple of days training to become part of a support team for a course that will be running for people who have cancer, later in the year. As part of the training, we were asked to write our own obituary.
Now, this may give some of you the shivers. It is not an easy thing to consider our own death. But it is a fact that at some stage all of us will die. So, with a certain degree of reluctance, I sat down, under a shady tree, to complete this exercise.
But what do I say about myself? Obituaries tend to be glowing (unless the person is really not easy to get along with, in which case they are short!) How often do I think of myself in glowing terms? And it struck me how frequently we put ourselves down.
We are congratulated on a job well done and dismiss the accolade as ‘nothing’. We are complimented on how we look and minimise the words by saying we have had this article of clothing for years. We are brave, but belittle our courage by saying we just acted from instinct.
It is not easy for us to accept words that build us up. We are taught not to boast, and perhaps we need to ask ourselves whether we have gone too far, diminishing ourselves by discarding praise and tributes that come our way.
Recently I needed to care for three small children. Whilst I was busy doing one task one of the little ones helped the smallest do a task beyond their capabilities. As I left them I took the helper aside and thanked them for their kindness and caring.
Big eyes looked up at me, and a serious little voice replied, “You’re welcome.”
Those words touched me deeply. If that had been me, I would probably have said, “Oh, it was nothing.” But this little child did not negate either the activity or the compliment.
If two words touched my heart, they can touch others too. I have made up my mind to accept the next compliment I am given and say words that affirm both myself and the one giving the compliment.
What about you?