by Courtney Laib, Story Hope
This is a tough one for us ladies, isn’t it? At the Influence Conference a few weeks ago I was talking with my friend Nicole about the dynamics of putting a few hundred women in the same room because there ARE dynamics, are there not? I mentioned that it’s interesting how we, especially as women, tend to compliment each other on our outward appearance more than we compliment what’s in each others hearts. I guess that could probably be said for the human race as a whole. And please know, my intentions weren’t to be critical, we were just simply dialoguing about something we’d noticed. I am often times guilty of the ‘outward compliment’ myself so these thoughts may very well be more for me than for you. But if you can relate at all, then let’s keep chatting.
I don’t think complimenting a friend on her new pair of shoes, or the lipstick she chose that day, or the cute shirt she’s wearing is wrong because none of those things are bad, right? Right. But we live in a culture that places HIGH value on outward appearance and LOW value on character and heart condition. So if we compliment on the outward stuff more than the inward stuff, are we not only feeding into the lies of this culture that what’s on the outside matters? Because according to God, it doesn’t. And we judge so much from what we see on the outside don’t we? I know I do.
So when it comes to our identity, how much stock do we place in how well put together we are? On how we dress? How fit our bodies are? How tall or short we are? What color our hair is? And then how often do we walk around complimenting other people on these superficial things?
“Oh, you’re just so cute!” “I love your hair!” “Those shoes are adorable!” “Girl, you look so skinny in those jeans!” “Cute glasses!”
Again, please hear me… It’s NOT bad to say these things. For most of us our intentions are innocent and we’re simply trying to compliment a friend. But, I think we have to be careful about how frequently we do this. How frequently we focus on the outside rather than the inside. Doesn’t it make sense that the more compliments we receive on our outward appearance the more we’ll start to believe that that’s where our identity lies? All the while, our hearts are left a mess.
My favorite board to pin things to on Pinterest is “Outfits I love”. Not “words to live by” or “gifts for friends” or “causes I support”, it’s Clothes. I would no where near consider myself to be a ‘fashionista’ but I love the creativity clothing allows for me to have. And thanks to Pinterest, I love stealing other peoples ideas for my own closet too. But it’s a struggle to maintain the balance between giving our friends heart-felt compliments and really looking at who they are on the inside, who God has made them to be, and celebrating that, more than we celebrate how they paired a new pair of colored jeans with their chambray shirt.
So here’s some questions we can ask ourselves…
How much of my identity do I put in what I look like on the outside?
When was the last time I complimented a friend on something that had to do with their heart rather than their outfit?
Am I feeding into the lie that what we look like on the outside matters?
I’m issuing a challange to myself and to you as well, if you’d like… The next time you get ready to compliment someone on their outward appearance, stop, and think about something you can say about their heart, or who they are in Christ, first. Then you can tell them how nice their hair looks. Imagine how this could change our Churches, our culture, and maybe even our world.
Ok, so enough with the heavy stuff… Here’s something fun! My friend Reeve Coobs just recorded her first full-length album that took her nine years to complete which means she put a whole lot of LOVE into it! Reeve asked me if I would listen to her album and then give a copy away during one of the days of this #31days series. Of course I said YES. Let me tell that her album is ah-maz-ing. It’s been playing non-stop in my car and I love every song. It’s a great mix of sweet melodies and fun tunes that make you want to bop your head. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s straight from Reeve’s heart.
So lucky for you guys… one of you will win a free copy of her new album! All you need to do is enter below!
Courtney is a mom, wife, friend, and Instagram addict. She lives in the Chicago area with her Pastor husband and three year old son. She is a fan of summer time, chai tea lattes, running, making new friends, traveling, and loving the ‘least of these’. She blogs at storyhope.com and you can usually find her talking about life, faith, and finding hope in brokenness.