A List Worth Writing

7

A little over a week ago my really fun friend Ashley was visiting from out of town. Ashley is a gem of a human being who I randomly crossed paths with a few years back through mutual friends and we built a quirky little friendship out of those random meetings. I’m really glad I know her and you would be too if you did.

So we were hanging out and being ultra-girls, driving to get my eyebrows waxed and talking about guys, when Ashley brought up an idea I’d heard of but never really unpacked. It’s the five non-negotiables. The five things that will help me understand while I’m getting to know a gentlemen caller(that’s right, I said it) if he’s got the most important traits I’d like to see in a man. I’ve probably always known what the five were in my head, as I think most of us do, but something about organizing them felt important. Plus I just got a new planner so I was geeking out on organization.

But when I went to do it, something struck me. I didn’t feel ready to write that list. I realized that I’d much rather start with and understand the most important traits I’d like to see in myself and fostering those non-negotiables than concerning myself with someone else’s.

It’s probably no secret that my love language is words of affirmation. A sweet, thought-out letter of thanks in the mail brings me incredible joy. A quick comment of appreciation tossed my way can literally make my day. Do not underestimate the weight a simple “Thanks, Katie! You’re great. {insert emoji here}” through text message carries in my life.

What I’ve noticed the past few months though is that certain compliments mean way more to me than others. Do I appreciate it when I spend more than my usual 2 minutes on my hair and someone says something complimentary? Of course I do. That feels great! Keep it coming. Or a simple re-tweet from someone I admire? Man that feels dang cool. But I gotta tell you guys. It feels so much greater when someone compliments me on a God-given skill, talent or trait that is meaningful to me.

There are things that I love about myself. And for some reason, just typing that felt like something I needed to censor or at least word differently. That’s crazy y’all. Like straight nuts.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:14

You’ve heard that verse. That and “guarding your heart” has been hammered into you, I know. I do. But don’t you think that if we really believed Psalm 139 was true–if we really believed that we were created in God’s image and loved abundantly by our creator–that we would be able to proclaim with confidence, boldness and without hesitation that we totally rule and that we are witty and intelligent and athletic and crafty and caring and stylish and empathetic and beautiful and generous? Don’t you think that if we really believed Psalm 139 was true we’d be able to stop batting away compliments when we actually think they’re true out of fear of seeming prideful? That’s crazy! Don’t get me wrong–don’t be conceited and don’t be delusional. And by all means remember where any greatness you possess is coming from. But don’t belittle His creation by feigning modesty.

If someone says to me “oh man, Katie. That was some beautiful singing you just did. Your voice is truly majestic” I’d bat that compliment away ’cause the person saying it is either incredibly and hurtfully sarcastic or downright insane. But if someone compliments me on how I do my job, a funny joke, loving my girls well or any of the other things I’m actually attempting at being good at and happy when I achieve it–I want to be confident enough to say “thank you” without assuming that they’re just being nice or lying to my face.

There are so many character traits that I value greatly in my closest friends. I have a best friend who is honest to a fault. And she terrifies me 87% of the time, but I cherish her friendship so much. She has a trait that I have to work really hard at to be marginally good at. Her default is to love earnestly without sugar-coating. That’s such a rarity. I’m so glad God created her like He did and put her in my life as the ying to my yang.

You have a trait that’s like that. I promise you do. In fact I’d bet you have five–probably way way more. I always say to my girls, and really any friends, that if you’re going to make me listen to you be self-deprecating about something trivial, you have to follow it up with a trait that you like about yourself. You’d be amazed how hard this is for most people on the spot. So I wrote mine down.

The five things that I’ve had people who know me well compliment me on in the past and those were meaningful words to me. The five things that God has instilled in me for a thousand different purposes that I haven’t even seen the half of yet. The five things that I love about myself and refuse to pretend otherwise. The five things I like that I can see in myself and would prefer to maintain. My five non-negotiables.

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