The Ultimate Compliment

by Joanie Butman

I hit a new low this week. While waiting for dinner at ‘The Farm’ (my parents’ nickname for their assisted living residence), an ‘inmate’ asked me when I had moved in. If he was looking for a dinner partner, this wasn't a good opener. Granted, there was a walker parked by my chair, but it wasn’t mine. Convincing myself that failing eyesight must be one of his ‘issues’ did little to soften the blow to my ego.

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Quite a different scenario than the exchange I had with another resident during my last visit, when I had the privilege of sharing breakfast with one of my mom’s friends. Sadly, she lost her husband about six months ago after a prolonged illness. I wish I’d had the opportunity to meet him because based on our breakfast conversation, he was a wise man of great faith – definitely an excellent example of a CBA* that I discussed last week. As he was approaching the end, he told his wife, “Death is a comma, not a period. I’ll see you when you get home.” Kathy explained that “she watched her husband be birthed into Heaven.” What a beautiful way to describe one’s passing – especially amidst so much suffering.

After breakfast, she took me on a tour of her apartment. As I was leaving, she looked at me and said, “You’re so beautiful.” Surprised, I blushed and stammered. She immediately explained, “Oh I don’t mean in the physical sense. You’re beautiful because I see Jesus in you.” Now I really was speechless. Her words were the highest compliment I’ve ever received, and for one of the few times in my life I really did feel beautiful. I walked away standing a little taller with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.


I considered her kind and generous compliment during my ride home, and it dawned on me that Kathy described exactly what being a CBA entails. It’s not a matter of BECOMING. It’s a matter of CHIPPING AWAY everything that hides what’s already alive in every believer –  namely, the Spirit of Christ. It wasn’t until I chose to surrender the very things I thought were making me a badass when I was young (the smoking, partying, biker boyfriend, and leather bustier that my girlfriends swear I wore regularly but I can’t recall or have chosen to forget) that the light of Christ could shine through me. The process brings to mind Michelangelo's famous quote in response to the question about the secret of his genius, particularly in regards to the statue of DavidHe replied, "It's easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David." And so it is with the Divinity that resides within every believer. Sadly, it isn't easy for most of us, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. It only took Michelangelo a little over two years to complete his statue of David, but spiritual sculpting is a life-long endeavor.

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ taught, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” How about you? Is there something in your life that is hiding or dimming the light you are meant to shine? It doesn’t have to be anything as tawdry as mine. It could be worry, fear, insecurity, pride, etc. The world offers a variety of dimmers from which to chose.

Each of us has been uniquely crafted for a Divine purpose. When you are living in alignment with God’s purpose for your life, you can’t help but be joy-filled. His light bubbles out of you and washes over all in your vicinity. Kathy’s compliment was the answer to one of my regular prayers, “Let them see You in me.” It seems I’m not alone because JJ Weeks wrote a song with that exact title.

At any rate, the only way to live out your Divine calling is to be open and available so Christ can use you for His purposes. You may not even be aware of it. Apparently, that particular morning my purpose was simply to share breakfast with Kathy. The apostle John gives us the formula for achieving this state of being in John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

I may not be eligible for residency at The Farm yet, but I still use a walker. The one parked by my chair at The Farm can’t compare to the Divine one I rely on. Blessedly, Christ is the walker that supports me wherever I find myself at any age. Only by choosing to let Him guide my steps does He become greater and I become less.



*See last week's blog post for further explanation of CBA.