A Surefire Antidote for Our Endless Self-Absorption

'You're good at what you do!'

I can't recall when this phrase started rolling off my tongue.

I wasn't trying to flatter or fill up an awkward moment.  I truly meant those five words.

I remember saying it to the enthusiastic realtors, the creative photographer, the skilled craftsmen who installed the new kitchen floor and the hefty team who dragged in the new appliances without wrecking said new floor during our intensely crazed work on the house before putting it on the market a couple of years ago.

I heard myself voicing those words to the tireless dental team mid-winter after my ninth visit in three months.  To the elderly woman carefully bagging my groceries and to the hyper-energetic supermarket manager who whisked me through the checkout line so fast that my head spun.

My new hairdresser heard my enthusiastic, relief-laden gratitude as I finally received my first decent cut after nine months in our new hometown.

I shouted it out to a few of the craftsmen who wielded hammers and brushes, ladders and shingles and paint, partnering with us as we made our new house into home sweet home.

And I'm quick to speak it to the kiddos whenever I spy something kind or creative or generous going on.

You get the picture.

We all crave sincere affirmations, a thoughtful blessing, a meaningful 'atta-boy' from time to time.  And if these offerings were in short supply during our formative years, we might be prone to even deeper longings to hear that we matter, that who we are and what we do counts for something.

What might our world look like if we intentionally chose to show our sincere appreciation to others in whatever ways are most comfortable for us?  It might be a handshake or a hug, a cash tip or a hand-written note.

Or the spoken word, sometimes oh so difficult to utter aloud.

Speaking grace into another soul's life is a surefire antidote for whining or complaining or grumbling about random stuff that matters little.  For who has time to indulge in endless self-absorption or obnoxious behaviors when you're on the lookout for ways to bless others with your gratitude?

If we tend to find this difficult, it could be that we haven't been able to fully grasp the height and depth of God's gracious love toward us, our value in His sight for who He's shaped us to be, not necessarily for what we accomplish or bring to the table.  The more that rich truth hits home for us, the more bountifully our own wells overflow and touch others with grace-laden kindness.

And yes, I'm betting that you're good at what you do.