TWO – FOUR – SIX – EIGHT –
WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?
This was the cheer we shouted in high school when our basketball team was playing. We appreciated the “Pirates,” despite their typically abysmal record. Being appreciated is not reserved for the winners, the best, the smartest, the wisest, or the most generous. In fact, if we want to help people win more often, be better at what they do and who they are, be smarter or wiser or both, and live more generous lives, there are few gifts we can give that are more helpful than “APPRECIATION.”
Third in our series of gifts to give this season (and hopefully every day of our lives), appreciation follows attention and acceptance. There is a reason for this order. If we do not pay attention, we certainly cannot appreciate the little things. If we cannot accept people exactly where they are, with all their idiosyncrasies and foibles, we will not appreciate them. Attention precedes acceptance, which precedes appreciation.
One person in this world I appreciate is the man who collects my trash. Our “relationship” started with attention. One of the first days his truck stopped at my driveway, I happened to be standing at the front door. I watched this man walk around the truck, tilt my trash bin, start the compactor, and when it was finished, put the trash bin back at the same spot in the driveway. He turned and saw me in the doorway. I waved. He waved.
Every Monday around one in the afternoon, if I am home, I open the front door and listen for the truck. Once he went down the street to turn around as he always does and my trash bin was not at the end of the driveway. He blew the horn. Alerted, I hurried outside and dragged it up the driveway. “Thank you,” I told him when he stopped the monster truck beside me. He nodded. (He is the strong silent type.)
Another time I had a sofa I needed to get rid of and I went to talk to him about this. He shook his head, “No.” “Different truck,” he said. “Call the office. They’ll send it.”
Next time I saw him he asked me if I got rid of the sofa.
I have noticed that when he replaces the trashcan, he puts it at a slight angle to the driveway. I always put it in a straight line with the driveway. He is making sure I can tell he has been there.
This man is large and looks very muscular. He may have been, perhaps, a boxer. Something or someone has messed with his appearance, and in a dark alley, he would frighten the best of us. He has been unfailingly kind to me. The trash company did an online survey asking if we were satisfied with their service. As you might imagine, I said only because of their exemplary employees, like the man who pays me a two minute visit every Monday afternoon.
Appreciation is built on acceptance and attention. Appreciation is so easy.
“Thank you,” for holding the door. However, we have to get out of our own heads and beyond our own egos. I am sure you have had the experience of letting someone in your lane while driving. You know how aggravating it is when they do not wave to say thank you. That non-waving person is someone who is so self-absorbed that they paid no attention to what just happened.
People who look different are our opportunity to not judge a book by its cover and practice acceptance. I once sat on a bench at a shopping mall waiting for my granddaughters. A young man and his little girl sister sat beside me and we fell into conversation. He explained they were waiting for their mother. We spoke for probably ten minutes, chatting about this and that, nothing of consequence, but a perfectly pleasant chat. When his mother came out of the store, she was a Middle Eastern woman wearing Muslim clothing. I had to ask myself if I would even have entered into a conversation with her if she and I had been sitting on the bench. It turned out she was a teacher at a local college and we talked of our common college teaching experiences for a few minutes.
Who do you appreciate? Two, four, six, eight. Name them in your head and in your heart. Then tell them.
My mentor and dear friend, Steve Perkins, died suddenly and unexpectedly this week. I am forever in his debt. There is no way to thank someone for helping, supporting, scolding, encouraging, guiding, trusting you the way Steve graced me with each of these gifts. While I will miss him every day of my life, I will also use what he taught me every day of my life. I appreciated him while he was here on earth, and I appreciate and anticipate that he will be an active influence on me “from beyond the veil.”
Do not miss a moment when you can appreciate another. We have only a narrow window of opportunity to say, “yes,” and “thank you,” and “wow I am grateful for you in my life.” We do not know when the window will slam shut. But this we do know: Feeling appreciated is as close to heaven as we earthlings can come. It is the most innocent and invigorating and encouraging feeling this side of eternity.
Blessings and peace to each of you. Please remember Steve’s family in your prayers as they try to adjust to an existence, which has become bleak and shadowed without this wise, patient, kind, non-judgmental, encouraging man.
All is in Divine Order. It will be fascinating to see how our loving and merciful God fills this vacuum.
In complete faith, Tony and Susan.
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“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
“That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalm 30:12 (ESV)
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (ESV)
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