“You did a really great job on that project,” a boss tells you.
“It wasn’t really that hard.”
“I could have done x, y, or z better.
“I wanted to finish it sooner than I did.”
“I love the way you welcome new members into our bible study/always sign up to take meals to hurting families/serve the church with your gifts,” says your friend.
“I wish I could do more.”
“You’re the one who is always helping people!”
“Oh, well, I’m not all that talented so I have to step up where I can!”
“You look beautiful today!” your husband smiles.
You roll your eyes:
“Oh, well, must be the new haircut.”
“Finally got to take a shower this morning!”
“You’re crazy/you have to say that/oh, whatever babe.”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? They certainly do to me. I hear these reflexive echoes in my own heart, deflections spilling out of my mouth when a compliment is extended my way. I hear them, too, in conversations around me, especially among women. A gracious, thoughtful word is offered and is almost visibly swatted away, sent flying back into the air, surrounded by a swarm of stammering phrases attempting to negate the compliment.