Bragging On Others
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” -- Leo F. Buscaglia
My friend Sarah came over to watch the Oscars with me. Near the end of the show, the awards for best actress and best actor were presented. Each of the five candidates in these categories was honored in a special way. Rather than just showing a clip of their performance, the show’s organizers had chosen to have another actor who knew them make a speech about them. Some of these were funny, others moving. When Oprah Winfrey spoke about Gabourey Sidibe, the young actress, nominated for her acting debut in the movie “Precious,” had tears rolling down her cheeks. Oprah praised Sidibe’s talent, courage, and creativity eloquently. At the end of the speech, Sarah commented, “Having Oprah say all that about you in front of the whole world might be even better than winning the Oscar.” Sidibe didn’t win the award, but she did have a memorable moment seen by millions that no one can take away from her.
To hear that someone else, particularly someone we love and respect, understands who we are and values what we do is incredibly powerful. And yet we so often fail to take the opportunities to say those positive things to and about the people we love. A moment like the one Gabourey Sidibe got to enjoy is moving because it is so rare. The place we most often hear speeches like that about someone in everyday life is at a funeral. How sad that we wait until a person has died to publicly say what we loved and admired about him or her. We need to hear those words while we are alive, especially from those closest to us. A friend of mine attended a parenting conference where she was encouraged to let her children overhear her praising them to others. “Let them catch you bragging on them,” the conference leader told the group, “and see what a difference it makes.” Over time, she did see some positive changes in her teenager’s behavior, his attitude, and the way he communicated with her. For him, knowing that his mom saw good things about him, and was proud enough to tell others, was better than winning any award. What would happen today if we let the people we care about catch us bragging on them?
God, thank you for seeing us with the eyes of a proud parent and never hesitating to show your love for us. Help us to show our love to others while we have them with us, to give them the public affirmation we all crave. But most of all, teach us to find the truest source of affirmation in your unfailing acceptance and joy in us. Amen.-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent