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On Telling People You’re Proud of Them

Something happened to me last week that I don’t think has ever happened to me before. A mentor of mine, an empty nester mom who works more than full-time every week and is a deeply devoted follower of Christ, text me and asked if she could come over. She had out-of-state travel plans that canceled, and as she was praying about how to fill an unexpectedly available week, the Lord brought me to her mind. I text her back casually and told her that she could come over during naptime on Thursday, and let her know that I had about 90 minutes and would love to catch up.

She told me she would come at 11:45am, about 15 minutes before the girls go down for their naps. She also told me that she would leave at 12:45 so that I could rest myself during the remainder of their naptime. She told me she would pick up lunch for us and bring it with her.

When she arrived, she read two princess books to Emerson, rejoiced in how Elliot is learning to clap, and kissed both girls before they went down for their naps. None of this was out of the ordinary for her, or for me. But once the girls were down she pulled out two smoked chicken salads from my favorite local barbecue joint and set them on the table between us. This is when the unexpected happened.

This woman, who I would argue had much better things to do with her time and energy and attention, spent the next 25 minutes telling me how proud she was of me. Those were the words to used: I’m so very proud of you, Amy. She told me she just finished reading my book, and she told me she was so proud of my work and writing. She told me that she had observed me mothering my children, and that she was so very proud of me for how I was attentive to them. She asked how things were going at our church plant, and told me how very proud of me she is for the work and labor we are doing for the Kingdom of God in our city. She looked me straight in the eyes and told me something I didn’t know I needed to hear, but the way my heart crumbled up in response reveals my deeper need: I’m so very proud of you, Amy.

As she left our home, with tears pricking the corners of my eyes, I resolved something. I want to tell those who I love that I am proud of them. I want to verbalize my love and affection and affirmation of them. I don’t want to just feel proud, insinuate that I’m proud, hint at the fact that I am proud of them. I want to tell them I am proud of them. And when someone tells me, I want to receive it.

I want to issue two challenges to you today. These two challenges that I am living into myself. Is the Lord bringing someone to mind? Someone who you are proud of? Someone who has navigated great difficulty and done it with grace? Someone who just accomplished something and is walking in humility through it? Tell them you’re proud of them, and tell them explicitly why you are proud of them. Use the language of affirmation: “I’m proud of you.” A few good phrases to use are: 

I noticed the way you _______, and I’m so proud of you for having that response.”

“When we were at [insert event], I observed how you ____________, and wow I am so proud of you.”

“The way you __________ made me realize {how much you’ve grown, that I want to be more like this, etc], and I just wanted you to know that I’m so very proud of you.”

Has someone shared affirmation or encouragement with you recently? Here is where my other challenge to you lies: Receive it. Don’t bark at it, shoot away, dismiss it out of hand. Receive it. Look them in the eyes when they say it to you. Do the hard work of keeping your lips pressed together so that you don’t interrupt them as God offers you encouragement through their words. Receive that encouragement, and let it sink deep into your bones.

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