A change has entered my vocabulary over the last couple of weeks: I’ve been overtly intentional about speaking praise, especially around my two sons.
“I really love the way you share your toys, buddy.”
“Wow! It was really considerate when you spread the jam on your brother’s toast.”
“I am so proud of how you were a good team player, even though you didn’t win the board game.”
Even though it felt a little weird at first to speak those normal, everyday praises out loud, a funny thing happened along the way: I began to see those good things even more, and when I began to see the good things with my eyes, I began to speak them even more with my mouth.
Part of me wonders if this is what Paul meant when he talked about giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even though the Bible differentiates between praise and thanksgiving, when we utter praises over our children, for instance, we’re also speaking words of thanksgiving for the good things we see.
And in a way, learning how to speak praise is yet another way of coloring outside the lines. Sometimes, it’s a whole lot easier to point out the negative behaviors instead of the positive behaviors. Sometimes, it’s a whole lot easier to focus on what we don’t have instead of on what we do have. And sometimes, it’s a whole lot easier to dwell in a half-empty land of darkness instead of focusing our eyes on rays of light and hope and goodness.
So, what is it for you?
As many of us enter into a week known for thankfulness, perhaps we start by speaking our praise and thankfulness aloud. Care to join me? I’ll get us started…
- For friends who bring over tortilla soup for the grownups and quesadillas for the boys, just in case the former is a little too spicy.
- For children’s books like If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t that make me laugh out loud every time.
- For books like Junkyard Wisdom that make me think deeply about the honest tension between wealth and poverty.
- For smokey mornings and afternoons that force those of us who live in the Bay Area to stay indoors and create new memories.
- For the many first responders who are putting their lives on the line to help those affected by the Camp Fire. (Also, want to help? TriCounties Bank has established a fund to help victims of the fire – click here to help).
- For the simple perfection of Saturday night pizza + a movie with my family. See also: mandatory snuggle time.
- For the reminder that joy and sorrow can operate simultaneously in our hearts and lives …and this tension of the both-and is just fine.
- For grownup friends who treat your children with dignity and respect – who sit on living room floors and ask them questions about monster trucks and Uno and dinosaurs alike.
- For faraway friends who aren’t afraid to give up on their hopes for a better world, even when it means campaigning (and winning!) against the man who threatens to silence your people.
- For a partner who gives his all to see health and flourishing, especially in himself and in his family.
So, what would you add to our list of praise and thankfulness? As we enter into a week known for thankfulness, let us not forget to speak those things out loud!
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