If you've ever worked with me at CSM, you know this phrase because I've yelled it at you as you leave for a day of service, and you've probably rolled your eyes and (hopefully) chuckled a little bit at me. I like to have fun and make people laugh, but I also mean what I say, even if I'm laughing.
Be a blessing!
With Thanksgiving approaching I've been thinking about what it means to be on the reciprocating end of thanks. We're trained to say thank you when we grow up, we write thank you cards, and we cook turkeys in honor of the Indians. And we know that it's right and good to be thankful towards people because we also know how good it feels when someone says thanks to us- and how bad it feels when they don't.
I guess I've been thinking about this because a lot of life is really thankless. Nobody thanks me for making my bed, eating food, and generally taking care of myself. That would actually be kind of weird. But now that I think about it, how cool would it be if the people that really knew you and loved you said to you, "I'm glad you got out of bed today and brushed your teeth. Thank you for taking care of yourself so that we can spend time together." I'd feel really loved by that friend.
Or... no well it's still kind of weird.
I guess it's just that thanks have become so expected and routine in some areas (thank you cards after certain occasions, or a "Thanks!" after you pass the salt) that they don't really mean much anymore. And any time you feel like you should say "Thanks!" outside of those social norms, you're really putting yourself out there. Like, "Oh, I really liked what they did, but they know that already so I don't need to say anything." Or, "What if they think I'm weird for liking this or just overly joyous or even straight up lying?"
Am I the only one who thinks these things sometimes?
Anyway, let's get to the stories. Last week all of the year-long Apprentices came to Philly to be trained and I had the privilege of hosting them. I also had the privilege of laughing my head off with them over the amount of food one* can consume at a diner. I got to share with them some of what I learned last year, and I got to show them around this awesome city. But the best was at the end of the week, I got this hand-made card with everyone's signature on it thanking me for my help. I didn't do this for the recognition, I did it because Apprentices are awesome people and I wanted to meet them and help them get off to a good start. But man, I sure felt appreciated.
Another example. I have just returned from gorging myself on the most excellent pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner I have ever eaten in my life. This is half of it:
There were EIGHT kinds of meat. EIGHT. And, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, stuffing, mac n cheese, rice, collard greens, cabbage, punch, pasta salad, potato salad.... I'm getting full just typing this all out.
Here's the thing. This awesome family, for four years now, has hosted this party and invites, from what I gather, like, everyone they know. Because at this time of year, why not just throw together an entire extra day of food for everyone you know?** But the thing is, everyone felt so appreciated. It was laid out beautifully, it was delicious, and it was fun.
I've got a lot to learn about really appreciating those around me, thanking them for being in my life, and saying to them directly, Thank you for being in my life, you are meaningful to me. Like I said, it's a big risk. I mean, what if you have this party but no one comes?*** Or what if you send a card but the person doesn't write an awkward blog post about it? Or if you say those words above, but they get all freaked out? We even all have different ideas of what it means to be appreciated. How can we even be a blessing if we don't know what that's supposed to look like?
What I try to remind myself of though, is that since the risk is so deep, the payoff is so deep too. Because as I left that cozy house, I felt full, but man, I really felt loved.
BONUS! SIDE NOTE! Or, bottom note, as it were. Anyway, a lot of you know about this, but this can be a tool that can potentially help you understand more tangibly how you love. It's called love languages, and the quizzes are free, so, even cooler. Just click on your category! Or, the wrong one and see if you can win.****
**Because it's a lot of work.
***Because everyone can casually resist this meal.
****Just kidding, loving is not about winning. Except when it is. Which is never.