I was recently reminded of a personality test one of my best friends had me take that showed me a truth about myself.
I LOVE personality tests…anything that gives me further insight into myself and those around me. I love to UNDERSTAND things. I’m one of those kids who drove her parents and teachers and now my boss nuts by constantly asking “Why?”. This personality test rated me highest in being conscientious. In addition to explaining a typical conscientious profile, it also explained what happens to a person who becomes TOO conscientious. Specifically it mentioned the tendency to self-deprecate, to always put yourself down. I laughed and said, “I don’t do that.” My best friend laughed and said, “Yes you do! You ALWAYS do that!” I had no idea what she was talking about…until she started pointing it out every time I did it in her presence. It was eye opening. I don’t think it had even been 10 minutes from the time we read the test results to the first time she pointed it out. I’ll forever be thankful to her for doing it. It made me want to find out why I did it. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:
1) Very few people see themselves the way others see them. We all need people in our lives who will tell us the truth. Sometimes that truth hurts, and sometimes it heals. Sometimes we have had so many lies spoken into our lives that we can’t hear the truth anymore. Like when ten people tell you how much they love your haircut and one person says, “What did you do to your hair?” You suddenly forget the good and all of your focus is on the bad. What would happen if our loved ones heard a nasty comment and immediately ran to us and told us it was a lie? If it was corrected before it took root and became entrenched as a part of our identity. Equally, if there’s something we can’t see in us that shouldn’t be there, we need someone to lovingly speak the truth to us. Like when my friend pointed out my self-deprecating ways. She wasn’t doing it to be mean…there was no malice at all. She wanted me to see the truth.
2. Self-deprecation is NOT the same as humility. This was a big one for me because I was convinced of the opposite. I thought being a humble person meant telling the world I was nothing, I was the worst, just about anyone else would be better than me. Being a good Christian meant I should have low self-esteem. A wonderful counselor spoke this truth into my life: that low-self-esteem is a form of pride. (Gasp!) What? No! I tried to argue and he asked me this question: “When you walk into a room full of people, what are your thoughts?” I told him I usually immediately realized I was the fattest person there and that no one would probably want to talk to me, and that the person who just looked at me and looked away probably thinks I’m ugly/a loser/gross….” He stopped me and said…”So every thought was about yourself.” I stopped. Whoa. He was right. All my “woe-is-me I’m so bleckity-bleck” was still all about me. True humility doesn’t seek attention. True humility is contented and joyful in being unrecognized. Everything within me at the time wanted someone to recognize me. It wasn’t humility, it was pride.
3) True value only comes from one place (and it’s not the hardware store).I’m sure I’ve lost friends who couldn’t stand to be around my Eeyore-self. And I still have my Eeyore days…but I’ve finally learned what so many pastors and counselors have tried to tell me over the years…that my value will NEVER be found in other people, or even in myself. My value comes from the One who gave everything for me. Like the parable of the pearl of great price, I may have been an irritant with a nasty, hard shell…but He wanted me. He died for me. Pearls, diamonds, any “precious” stone only has value because it is wanted. Why do I care if strangers around me see me as valuable…I already had someone I didn’t know give everything He had to be with me. Who can match that?