My sister recently shared excerpts from letters written by our aunt. One, from 1981, was penned shortly after our father had passed away and as our birthday approached. She tenderly spoke of the sadness my sister might feel since daddy was gone. She commented on what a good daughter she had been and encouraged her to continue to move forward, enjoying her daughter and the little person that was on the way. In another note, my aunt talked about our mother, whom she still missed, some thirty years after her passing. She reflected on their growing up years and said from the time mom was a little girl, more than anything she just wanted to be a ‘mom’. She said our mother would be so proud of her girls; in essence, that we were a wonderful reflection of the love she had poured into us. I am touched when hearing these letters. During her life, our aunt was encouraging, affirming, and showed her love in many ways. What a wonderful blessing this continues as we re-read her beautiful letters and cards.
All of us, big and small, have opportunities to affirm one another, sometimes in ways that are very simple. I played a game of Go Fish with my granddaughter the other day. She would ask if I had any blue cards and when I gave them to her, she sweetly said “thank you” every time. I couldn’t help but smile. Her response sent a message—that she appreciated me. When I call my Boston crew, often one of my grandchildren will just yell out that they love me. You better believe I am smiling on the other end of the phone. I know they love me, but it warms my heart to hear it just the same.
Words of affirmation contribute to the quality of our lives and say much–that we are valuable and worthy of dignity and respect, just because we are, not because of anything we do. We won’t ever do it perfectly, but seeing others as bearers of God’s image, individuals to be valued, cherished, might help us use the right words – those that will bring about good and far less that have the potential to cause harm to another. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)