To Conquer Or Consider

My daughters just finished a summer session of ice skating lessons. Watching them on the rink reminded me of the last time I laced up a pair of skates. We were at a school sponsored event where parents were invited to participate. Having just fallen off a ladder (and torn a ligament in my knee) the year before, I was nervous about joining Katie and Hollie on the ice. Not wanting to disappoint them, my plan was to take a few cautious laps around the rink before sitting down in the stands to watch.

Thirty seconds and one near-fall later, I was reminded of the scene from The Princess Diaries where Mia Thermopolis struggled to decide whether to accept or reject her title as heir to the Genovian throne. In the end, the words that made her face her fears are the same ones that convinced me to honor mine.

“Courage is not the absence of fear,” Mia read in a letter from her father, “but the judgment that something is more important.”

Is this more important than my health? I asked myself as I steered clear of an approaching skater.

The answer came when I looked at my daughters and realized that they were doing just fine without me. With their approval, I inched my way off the ice and turned in my skates.

A few minutes later I knew I had made the right decision when I walked by a man who was holding a bloody towel and a bag of ice to the back of his head.

“Did he just fall on the ice?” a woman in front of me asked the employee who was kneeling in front of the injured man.

Nodding in agreement, the employee said: “He’s waiting for a neighbor to take him to the hospital for stitches.”

Her words affirmed my conclusion that some fears are not meant to be conquered, but carefully considered. And those who do will spare themselves a considerable amount of pain.

“Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.” – Proverbs 4:26


“You were a great host tonight,” I told Katie after our guests had gone home.

“I know, I’m amazing,” she replied.

As a parent, I’m always trying to find the right balance between building my children’s confidence and chipping away at signs of conceit. After hearing her latest comment, it was time to do the latter as I reminded my oldest of what Jesus said in Luke 14: “Do you remember the moral of the story about not taking the place of honor at a wedding banquet and instead waiting for the host to move you to a better seat?”

“People who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” Katie paraphrased.

“That means you’re supposed to wait for others to build you up,” I lectured.

“I did wait for you to compliment me.”

Katie had a point. I initiated the praise. What was wrong with agreeing with me?

Sometimes I think we confuse self-esteem for self-love and a lack of it for humility. How many times, for example, have you heard someone put herself down after receiving a compliment instead of just saying thank you? How many times, for the record, has that person been you?

I read once that hurting people hurt people. While this probably explains why all of us at one time or another have been guilty of tearing others down in a weak attempt to build ourselves up, it doesn’t excuse Christians for thinking that disparaging themselves will somehow make God look more divine.

We don’t have the right to put down anyone who was created in His image, including ourselves. What we do have is an opportunity to take God at His word and every compliment as a reminder that He thinks we’re amazing … and so should we.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well – Psalm 139:14a