avoiding the thank you-but (a repost).

Lately, I’ve been dishing out a whole lot of “thank you-buts.”  A friend or stranger – it doesn’t matter who – gives me a genuine, real-life compliment, and instead of chewing and swallowing their kindness as I should, I pop their words in my mouth and spit it into my napkin like a five-year-old with an aversion to green beans.  Instead of seeing and accepting Truth for what it is, I twist and pull and blend and stretch compassion into my own skewed interpretation.  So today I looked up this post I’d written exactly two years ago, right after our first son was born …because I needed to hear its message again.  And who knows?  Maybe you do as well.  Enjoy.  xo.


A couple Sundays ago, one of my favorite little old ladies came up to me after church; she gushed and oohed and ahhed over the little one, and complimented me on how skinny I looked after having just had a child. I looked at her, and I looked down at my tummy that still done-lapped over my waist and thought about the dreamy In-n-Out vanilla shake and cheeseburger, no onions, I’d just consumed the afternoon before. I thought about how my old jeans still didn’t fit, and did she notice that I only seemed to wear stretch pants these days? So I gave her a thank you-but.

“Well, thank you but I still have a long way to go.” I took her genuine compliment, swirled it around in the messed-up blender of my own misguided perceptions and threw it out the window.

That’s when she tossed it back to me.

“Say thank you, Jackie.”

I looked at her. “Huh?”

“I said, say thank you, Jackie.”

I paused, confused. I cocked my head to the side and looked at her quizzically: What was I supposed to say in return? Oh, that’s right: “Thank you, Jackie.”

But did I believe it?

Somewhere along the way, I’ve become a thank you-butter, and I’d venture to say we’ve become a culture of thank you-but’s. Genuine compliments are dished out, only to be received and swirled around in the jumbled mess of who our minds think we’re supposed to be.

Like much of the female population, I’ve continued to hold onto the belief that I’m too fat and need to lose another 10 pounds. I remember believing that I was one size too big for the first time in the 3rd grade – I read “One fish, two fish” to my little sister, and climbed up and down the stairs of our backyard treehouse, and had dreams of becoming an astronaut someday, and I believed that I should have been a size 8 instead of a size 10. At nine years old. And thus I began to dish out the thank you-but’s.

My resolution is this: I don’t want to be a thank you-butter anymore. I want to just say thank you and receive the kind words as they were meant to be heard. I want to tuck those delicious words into my pocket and carry them around near my heart, and not worry so much about who I’m not but instead be okay with who I am. And when I then give a sweet morsel of truth to a friend, I don’t want it to be thrown back with a side of butter.

Is it just me?

Are you a thank you-butter?  Is this a female thing or a white thing or a Christian thing …or just a me thing?  Let’s dialogue! 

6 thoughts on “avoiding the thank you-but (a repost).

  1. OOPS….I think you learned this from your mother. A very wise person once told me to never apologize for my cooking, even if I knew it was below a certain standard…like edible?!? I have tried to live by this, but fail terribly in the personal, physical complement department…as you well know. I will endeavor to cut down on the but-ter, Honey!! Love ya, Muddah

  2. What a powerful visual of a “thank you butter” – “I pop their words in my mouth and spit it into my napkin like a five-year-old with an aversion to green beans.”

    Taking good for you, positive things and not allowing them to sink in, be digested, and offer health. Such a powerful thing to be aware of!

    Thanks you!

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