And so this past weekend it was my turn. I received several renditions of "What I like about Jamie is..." and was overwhelmed by how affirming the experience was, perhaps this year more than ever.
Time dedicated to affirming and encouraging one another is a lost art at times; their words restored my soul. As we struggle to control the whirlwind that is our life at present, it was priceless timing to have people who know and love me remind me of who I am; of who I am called to be.
They took turns speaking such things as:
I love how well you love Geoff; how you seem to care about what's going on with me when we talk; how you're okay with trusting GOD to reveal what's next during transition; that you're hospitable and love to serve.
It was hard to hear their words of affirmation above the sound of my own thoughts attempting to contradict.
"I do love Geoff, but I fail far more often than I succeed at loving him as I should."
"I do care about what's going on with you, but I should be more involved in your lives than I am."
"That's sweet, but I am not trusting - I freak out regularly about our situation(s)!"
"I'm not as hospitable as I should be, I'm a selfish introvert far more often."
But they didn't.
They could have picked apart any number of mistakes I made that day alone. Things like, "Jamie, we noticed you weren't patient with Geoff when you asked him to feed the dog..." and launched into reasons I should have been, how I was wrong, what an ungracious person I was and on and on. They would have been right.
But they didn't.
They took time to call out the person they saw I was created to be. Praise GOD I was able to hear. To receive. To believe that I can be those things by HIS Grace and Strength. They spoke His Truth into my life. I am thankful for family who will surround me and speak words of encouragement and blessing. I am also thankful to know these same people would speak to me when I mess up, not by picking me apart, but by helping me pull it together.
We are often trained by society in mock humility to beat ourselves up rather than to call out our strengths. We excel at identifying weakness in others and ourselves and focus our gossiping tongues to such degrading conversation far too often.
What if we only called out each other's strengths? What if we never slandered another person - our selves included? What if we talked about such things as church "issues," others mistakes, or even politics (you mean don't slander even the President!?) with love, encouragement, and grace rather than the more common condemnation, arrogance, and disrespect.
I think we'd all be better for it. I'm guilty of condemning, arrogant, slanderous talk EVERY DAY. I hate it. It is poison. I want to speak TRUTH in LOVE. I want to speak Life, not despair. Blessing, not curse. Truth, not gossip. Love, not fear. I'm so thankful for family and friends who remind me of this.
- Ephesians 4:14-15