But thou art holy, O thou that
inhabitest the praises of Israel. - Ps.
Recently I was
remembering this verse about God inhabiting the praise of His
people. And the idea that
The Holy One lives in our praise was always unclear to me in
I hope this is not
too much of a stretch, but I had a new view
of it as I thought of it in terms of what praise, (not
flattery, but genuine positive praise) can do for a human.
Bernie has often quoted a Mark Twain-ism, where he says, "I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else
to eat." - Letter to Gertrude Natkin, 2 March 1906
(now Twain also admits that compliments can make him vain...so I guess not to overdo it.) I also remembered
something one of our son Josh's professors said of him at an
awards banquet when he was in college. He said, "Because Josh
is in my computer science class, I can live!" :) What he was saying was that
Josh's interest in, understanding of, and appreciation of what
that Computer Science teacher was teaching gave him the desire to live.
It was a slight exaggeration of course to make a point, but
isn't there some truth to that?
Just as God apparently 'lives'
in our praise as we acknowledge and appreciate and praise Him
for who He is, for what He has done, I think people also can be
encouraged also by sincere praise, when we look for what they
do right, what natural strengths they have, what is good in
them. It makes them want to continue, makes them want to 'live' in a sense.
whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever
is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
I first learned this with
I first learned the
lesson related to my parents. As a young adult I was rather critical of
my Mom in particular, and told her of different things I didn't think
she had done right. "I am insecure because..." But as I started
raising my own children, (and learning how hard a parent tries to do
everything right and everything for the child's best, but yet how hard
it is!), the book "The Tribute - what every parent longs to hear" by
Dennis Rainey came across my path, and I read it.
The book tells stories of people looking for the good in their parents lives and writing tributes to parents, and how it brought healing to the person as well as the parent. The
stories of forgiveness
and honor in very difficult circumstances in this book made any petty
grievance I had against mine look so small. I
purposed from that point on to honor and appreciate my parents. And
honoring over time, helped me realize also that the things I thought
were wrong, were not necessarily wrong either. I
started with a party for their 40th anniversary, and was so glad I did,
both succumbed to Cancer and never made it to their 50th. I was so glad I had at least 10 years of
blessing, thanking and honoring them for their sacrifice and love before
I couldn't do that anymore. And of course I sought to do the same for my parents-in-law, too! I really think this book marked my life in a
way nothing short of the Bible has, and I highly recommend it to you if you
are struggling with forgiving anyone in your life.
Here is a link to the book, The Tribute by Dennis Rainey
Here is a good review at Amazon
Apparently it has been edited and re-released as this title
I next learned this lesson with
As a parent I had a
propensity to focus primarily on what needed to be improved on or fixed
in my children. There were different challenges with different
children, but every school year involved a reassessment of what needed
to be improved on. Work. Order. Schedules. Discipline. Work. Fun happened with their friends and activities, but really not so much with me as I sought to teach and train them to make good choices and to be successful and to work hard.
I might have had their
heads with this mindset but not as much their hearts. In their teen
years, as I was facing conflicts and concerns, I came across some materials about 'Blessing' your children.
Again this was transformational to me. Look for the good. Appreciate the good.
Look past the current problems and believe in your children's potential. See past their faults. Write
them letters of blessing. And most importantly look at yourself. During
this season I learned about realizing that their faults were often
magnifications of my own. And I must pull out the root in me, to have
any hope of helping them remove the plant in them. So we prayed and
worked and repented as parents. The amazing thing was, at first it was
actually hard to realign my mind to actually see any good thing to
praise if the relationship was particularly difficult. But I committed
to finding and saying at least one thing every day to each child.
Amazingly, over a rather short time, it became natural and easy. And for
one of my children, this act brought them to really believe I loved
them at an emotional rather than just a head level. Wow so sad and humbling to think they could have ever doubted
that! I still tear up as I think about that. :( Was my hope and encouragement bringing our children hope? I don't know, but it was good for me and good for them. And I do think God brought about some miracles during that season.
So after these two
periods of growth and learning, I began to apply the idea of writing
'tributes' or 'blessing' people to broader areas. If I saw a Panera's
manager doing an amazing job keeping the line moving on a particularly
busy day, I went over and told him. If I appreciated the cheerfulness
of the checker at the grocery store, I told them. Etc. Etc. Etc. My
motto became, if you see something good, if possible, say it!
God bless you!
So action point
for the new year...An experiment...if you like this idea, try
to apply it to people in your life who are discouraged. See
if it helps both you and them look up and want to live. :)
Linda for the Bealls