I was hanging out with my sister recently when I said, “Can I brag about myself for a minute?”
Now, this isn’t an uncommon phrase from me I guess, but it’s one I try to offer up so that the person I’m about to brag to is aware that I know I’m bragging. If I’m gonna do it, I might as well be honest about it and own it.
Typically, when I ask this question, I get one of a couple different responses. “Sure”, “Go ahead”, or “of course” are the standard replies, but my sister’s was different. She responded, “Sure – that’s what you usually do anyway.”
Her remark caught me off guard, and when asked, she went on to tell me how it seems like I’m always talking about myself in one way or another, so I can go ahead brag about myself some more.
Her words stung, and honestly surprised me more than I’d like to admit. I’d never realized that I can dominate conversation so wholly on myself and I don’t think I would have ever realized should my sister not have told me.
More recently still, my fiancé and I were working through some of our premarital counseling paperwork. We were asked to rate ourselves for personality traits, then rate our partner. In the end we were to compare our answers and see if how we view ourselves is close to how our partner does.
In many ways, we were accurate with our self evaluations, but in two ways, we both very much so differed. How nurturing and how compassionate we found ourselves to be. We both rated ourselves mid-to-low scores, citing that we had room to improve in the area; Yet when we shared our opinions of each other we felt our partner to be very high scoring in those places!
As people, we are prone to self-evaluation, and in that, devaluation. It’s easy to see our own flaws because we interact with them every day. We catch ourselves in our bad moments and give them so much value when instead they’re minor blips in the big beautiful personalities God gave you.
Sometimes, the opposite is true. Like the situation with my sister, I was aware that I can brag but I hadn’t realized how big that blip is in my social life until she spoke up and told me. Somewhere along the line my little blip became a big smear, and it took someone with the guts to tell me in order for me to see it too.
As people of God, we’re called to self-examination as well as to guide others when they may have missed sin in their own lives. We see this calling in a couple of different places throughout the bible;
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
1 Corinthians 11:28 “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
Lamentations 3:40 “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”
Matthew 18:15a “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you…”
With this in mind, I’m challenging myself to reflect on my behaviors each day. I’m forcing myself to ask why I do what I do, and how I both see myself as well as wish to be seen by others.
Sometimes the evaluate hurts a bit, like it did with my sister, and other times it’s the pleasant surprise I experienced with my fiancé.
In what ways do you catch yourself surprised with who you are, or maybe who you’re not? What do you do to help keep yourself accountable?