I know a man who takes effusive joy in his appreciation. His full on enthusiasm about LIFE dips everything he does in conviction. He takes ordinary goodness and sticks a firecracker in it, then he stands back, hands clasped, to see what will happen. And this man really loves Jesus. So what he offers to the world is a peeled back view of joy that’s informed by the raw love he’s known, sourced in his Savior.
He is wonderful to be near. He makes me want to catch fire with purpose, and he shows me how.
And a mutual friend of ours told me this week that one of his favorite things to do is appreciate people. I was not one bit surprised.
One of Jeff Bridges’ lesser known films (and perhaps one he’d rather forget) was Starman, the story of an alien who chooses to walk the earth in the body of a man who happens to be someone’s dead husband. In the story, the alien dons the body of Scott Hayden and his wife Jenny is entirely freaked out by this, but decides to accompany him on a special mission, persuaded by the gun he’s carrying. There is a lot of misunderstanding and re-understanding that happens on their epic trail, but one of my favorite parts of the film is a scene when the alien remarks on what he finds unique about earthlings.
To SETI scientist Mark Shermin, who has the power to capture him or engineer his rescue, he says this:
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
Scott Hayden (Jeff Bridges), Starman, 1984
This part of the story is especially lovely because we feel this pang of poignant hope. A person (or in this case, a being) who can stop and see the beauty in another is indeed otherworldly. But not necessarily out of reach.
As friends, we have the power to magnify each other’s beauty. We can even magnify God’s beauty (Psalm 34:3). It’s not your job, it’s your privilege.
As I write about questions that grow friendships this month, I get to think about all the amazing people I know and all my favorite things about them.
She hungers and thirsts for the voice of God.
He finds the fun in every situation.
She is so voracious for real life as it’s happening that she reads 5 newspapers a day.
He is most himself when he is feeding people.
She is a single working Mom, and a tireless lioness for her sons..
It can be hard at first to give great appreciation – find your way. This question, “May I appreciate you?“*, is a hypothetical one, really, because who is going to stop you? Go ahead and tell her the reasons why she blows you away. Giving value and showing worth takes a trained voice, and, with practice, we all can be maestros. When you tell someone specifically what you love about them, you also get to be the one who released that truth, like balloons to the sky. It feels like a secret you’re telling the world when you get to raise up a friend by noticing her remarkable qualities.
Enthusiastic heapings of encouragement for true wonderfulness can change a person’s view of themselves. So don’t hold back – appreciate with gusto.
One of the things we fall in love with about a friend is getting to be the person we become in their eyes.
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