Monday, September 18, 2017

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.




*   *   *

aiming to encourage
@

36 comments:

  1. I am exceptionally good at sitting down. Mind you, I like hard work, really. I can sit all day and watch other people doing it. It is called management. I was once told by my employees that I was good at delegating. I was also good at motivating people. Always making them and me feel involved and a team. When I said "We will do it ..." I meant "YOU will do it ..." and they did!

    God bless.

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    1. Ah ... not only do I have the privilege of contending with you here this morning, Victor, but also over at Lulu's

      http://www.loralujames.com/2017/09/the-new-30.html

      Gee, it doesn't get better than that, does it!

      ;-}

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  2. A good reminder to look for and affirm and encourage the positive. We're so prone to fixate on the one small thing that bugs us rather than the many positive things people do.

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    1. Absolutely, Barbara! Especially for those of us who tend to see the glass half empty or to fight against a negative, critical spirit. Don't you love that we get to choose how to respond?

      Yay!

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  3. Everyone needs to hear words of encouragement. Honestly, Linda, that's something I do often - think I was hard-wired to be an encourager, and I'm so grateful for that gift from God.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. As I read your comment, all I could think of was 1 Thessalonians 5:11 - 'encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.'

      If there ever was a needed social media verse, that would be it!

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  4. Yes, yes, yes!! I do this very same thing, Linda. I want people to know I see them, and I appreciate them--especially when they are good at something that I am NOT good at! Now if only we could find a way to MAKE people believe these words when they are prone to discount them. It hurts my heart when people aren't able to see strengths in themselves that are so obvious to everyone else.

    And of course I can't end this comment without telling you that you are good at what you do--the writing, the encouraging, the way you get around to so many blogs every week--on top of all the offline stuff!

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    1. You bring up a tender subject, Lois ... can we do this genuinely well when someone else is way far ahead of where we are ... or does envy / jealousy creep on in.

      mmm ... pondering ...

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  5. Well, I'm good at surviving. I figure that at the end of the nuclear war that lays waste to the earth, the only living things left will be cockroaches, and me.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/09/your-dying-spouse-363-living-years.html

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    1. You're not only beating the odds, pal, but you've built an incredible legacy in the process.

      Cockroaches, huh?

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  6. It's amazing how a few small words said sincerely can be so powerful, but they can make a huge difference to someone's day or how they feel about themselves. I think it's something I've got into the habit of trying to do after the realisation that I often thought positive things about people but didn't say them. Now I make a point of trying to say it out loud.
    And you are very good at what you do here- it's always encouraging to visit!

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    1. I hear exactly what you're saying, Lesley ... how many times have I thought positive things about someone but didn't take the time to let them know that they've impacted me?

      Blaming my neglect to do so on being an introvert is so lame. Sometimes it's easy to reach out and encourage ... but other times? Not so much.

      I guess that's where obedience to the Spirit's prompts is so very necessary.

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  7. I'm always encouraged when I visit here, Linda. You're pretty good at that, ya know? Encouraging others :) I've been watching Jose and praying for you and your family. Stay safe, friend.

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, June. My heart aches tonight for those in Mexico, in Florida and Texas, and on those beautiful little islands, already decimated.

      Lord, have mercy.

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  8. Speaking grace into another's soul.
    I love that!

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    1. A sweet gift to offer ... and to receive.

      Yes, yes.

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  9. That's so true, Linda! Getting our eyes off ourselves (even for a minute or two!) will refocus our thoughts and maybe even redirect our toxic train of thinking. And that does take some effort and intentionality on our part -- and maybe even supernatural help from God when our focus is inward. You are good at spreading good cheer here! :) xo

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    1. You're so right, Valerie ... this takes effort and intentionality and help from above. It doesn't come naturally for many of us. I love that God is ready, willing, and able to lead us into this level of relationship with others.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. You always do ...

      ;-}

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  10. I absolutely LOVE this post because, quite frankly, I have felt it recently. I've been sort of burned out, even though I took that refueling break--which very much helped! But I'm still feeling the pressures that I left behind for 8 weeks, since I've returned to blogging, as well as some other responsibilities I set aside during the summer. So it feels a bit like I'm asked to carry a very heavy burden once again, and though I have more strength and energy, I know I cannot sustain this effort without chopping out some things that I have tucked in that "sack of heavy burden." So I will probably be quitting my linkups, for one, sometime in Oct or Nov. And I'm cutting back on blog hopping, except to special friend like you, Linda, and others who stop by my blog, etc. The point is, I'm scaling back and partly because I'm discouraged about whether I'm making an impact. So those atta-girls that you speak of are few and far between. And I don't do it for that, but when I'm burned-out, I feel my focus lingering in the "I'm not good-enough" zone far too often! I'm climbing out, though after many good friend conversations, much prayer and a spiritual retreat last week. But I'm still kind of recovering. So pray for me, sweet sister from another mister! I know your "prayers availeth much!"

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    1. Well, I for one, applaud you, Beth. These are hard decisions to make but we just KNOW when it's time to make some choices to say 'yes' to what matters most.

      Even and especially when it's a different 'yes' than we said in another season.

      Good for you in noticing that you're feeling a little crispy around the edges, noticing what's become burdensome, and letting your emotions inform you.

      You're a great influencer, Beth ... please know that your choices will give other people permission to do what they know God is whispering deep in their hearts.

      Bless you for your wisdom and courage!

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    2. Thank you, Linda! You are such an incredible encourager, especially in my life. So I'm sending your words of encouragement right back at ya!

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    3. Praying for you even as I tap away ...

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  11. You are so good at what you do as well, Linda. Thank you for your loving encouragement and gentle guidance always. I love to encourage others as well. It's so true that when we really embrace God's love for us and feel value in His sight, the more we will touch others with grace-laden kindness. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Yep, you are an encourager for sure, friend ...

      ;-}

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  12. You're certainly good at writing and encouraging, Linda. It's always a joy to visit with you here. And those encouraging words? They're often a gold mine and most definitely related to how much we realize the depth of Christ's love for us.

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    1. Amen! He fills our wells to overflowing ... what can we do except share all that love and grace and joy with others!

      What a wonderful Savior.

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  13. Being thankful, grateful, and appreciative goes so far, Linda! You will never know the impact of your words, but it could have softened a difficult day for the checkout cashiers, for the hardworking crew, and so on. It is amazing how a simple thank you full of heartfelt gratefulness can make all the difference in a life. Good reminder to stay thankful, and vocal with it too! Always enjoy the nuggets I find here to bless my heart. Hugs to you!

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    1. Amazing how people's faces light up when our words are kind. It doesn't take much, does it, to make someone's day a bit brighter ...

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  14. Grateful and heartfelt words are always balm to our souls. Like you say, we want to know we make a difference. That people see us. Appreciate us. And we can't complain when we are thanking and counting our blessings. Yes it is funny we both chose the same topic this week. : )

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    1. Hi Theresa ~ Don't you just love when you find that another blogger is coming from the exact same place at the exact same time? I think God smiles with us at this kind of joy ...

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  15. This is so beautiful! And so so important in our world! Kindness is very important. Have a beautiful day.

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    1. Sending lovingkindness from my country to yours, friend ...

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  16. A kind word costs so little and takes so little time. A pause in the hustle and hurry, a free moment, a time in between this task and the next ... just a breath, an exhale, and really seeing the people around us. Your kindness spreads far, Linda.

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    1. Just reading your words is sheer grace, friend. Thanks for being the icing on the cake ...

      Enjoy the weekend ahead.

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  17. Awe, what a sweet post, Linda. And, friend, know that you are good at what you do as well. Thanking God this morning for your encouraging spirit. Isn't it interesting how just a few generous words can effect the days of others? He puts so many opportunities in front of us to bless, thanks for the reminder to look for them. ((xoxo))

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    1. You're so right, Brenda. God continually places opportunities all over the place! Now to obey ...

      Meanwhile I'm featuring your prayer post this weekend -

      http://www.lindastoll.net/2017/09/a-bouquet-for-early-autumn-weekend.html?m=1

      ;-)

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda