22 March 2012

Praising v. Bragging

I find myself in a particularly peculiar place in my life.  That is really not THAT unusual, but it seems so right now.  If you are a regular reader of this blog - or one of my many Facebook friends - you probably know that I recently published a book based on the first three years of writings on this blog.  (SIDENOTE:  The four year anniversary of the first post on this blog is next week!  Can you believe that!?  I cannot.)

It has been an amazing time since the book launched on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and on my personal website last month.  I have several testimonies I could share with anyone willing to listen, BUT I wonder/worry that I might become that person that I abhore - you know the one who ONLY talks about themselves, their accomplishments, their achievements - the person who starts every sentence with the personal pronoun "I".  And while I want to share every step of the amazing journey that God has placed me on, when does "sharing my testimony" become "bragging"?  I find it to be a very thin tightrope that I walk on on a daily basis lately.

When my grandmother was alive, this very subject would often be the topic of our Sunday morning conversations.  She was often the recipient of gifts - often monetary - from loved ones and friends, and she loved to go to church and "testify of the Lord's goodness", but I would sometimes have to caution her that her testimonies sometimes (ok, honestly - more often than not) tended to lean towards bragging about what her granddaughter had done for her - or what her "beloved Arons girls" had sent her in the mail that week (money, flowers, or other gifts).  She often wondered why the fellow members of her church congregation were not as excited to hear her testimony as she was to give it.  Maybe it's because, while people want to be happy for you when you are blessed, sometimes how you tell the story may turn them off.

So, now I find myself in a position of what do I share about what is going on with the book, without being
As I often do, I posed this question to my Facebook family of friends and while I only got a few responses, the responses I got were right in line with what/how I feel about the matter.  My cousin Kim gave a response most in line with my way of thinking.  She said, "Bragging = When the focus is on what YOU are accomplishing instead if what HE Is accomplishing for you and through you. Got to constantly ask yourself 'WHO am I putting the spotlight on, who is receiving the glory with this report?' If it is all about you, the focus has to change."  And my college friend Linda stated, "I believe it's all about your intent. Some people view the entire praise/prayer request as a time to gain attention. I think a good judge of your own intent is simple: When in the quiet of your own home sans audience, are you saying as much or more? If so, it's not bragging!"  So, according to both of these wise women, it all comes down to MOTIVES, which is something I firmly believe, and strive to remember as I go through my days.  

I want to believe that my true intention behind sharing the stories about all the amazing things happening in my life now is to point the listener to my Heavenly Father, and to bring honor and glory to HIS name (not mine).  So, I'm gonna keep praising His name and sharing the stories with anyone who will listen.  BUT, I am holding my friends accountable for holding my feet to the fire.  If you ever hear me giving myself the praise and glory - uh, pull a sista up and remind me that it ain't about me, and that nothing I do is worthy of the glory God is bestowing upon me.  I could not do it without Him and His blessings on my life and I am ever mindful of that.  I trust that you will do your part to keep me honest, so I thank you in advance.

Be blessed!
about it?  When does sharing the good news of the seeming success of the book begin to turn the stomachs of my longsuffering friends and family?  Is it really necessary (or even desirable) to share the daily events that make my mouth (literally) drop open in amazement at how God is working out His plan for my life right now?  And while my friends may want to hear it initially, when will they start screening my calls with their Caller IDs because they don't want to hear (AGAIN) about what is going on with the book?  And yet, if I don't praise the Lord for what is happening, aren't I being "ungrateful" for His blessing in my life and on the ministry He has thrust upon me?  I am not trying to have any rocks cry out on my behalf, so I have to offer up the praise that He is worthy of.  Do you see my dilemma?

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