Well, I just put my boys to bed on Father’s Day. They have two beds in their room, but they cram into one together. And unless they start pounding on each other, I let them. Allison, my daughter, beat them to bed about an hour ago. Before we left the room, my wife asked them what their favorite thing about me was. Dan, my 4 year old, loved that I wrestle with him. I do that a lot and probably too rough. No joke, one day when he was about 2, I came home from work. Instead of saying, “Hey dad, let’s wrestle”, he said, “Dad, punch me in the face.” So I did. It was a play punch! Jack’s favorite thing about me is that I play baseball with him. Playing baseball with Jack means he gives me the bat and tells me to hit the ball as far as I can into the air. Did you know I can hit it all the way over the house? Not impressed? Who cares, Jack is. I thought that was a neat conversation we had in a matter of about 5 minutes. It summed up the day.
One thing I noticed was that on this day I was intentionally affirmed. I have flaws. I say things I shouldn’t. I’m bad at a lot of things. Some days I’m hard to live with. But today, Sarah and the boys went out of their way all day long to emphasize my strengths and the positive things they love about me. Another thing I noticed was that it was deliberately communicated. I got cards from my parents and my wife with long paragraphs SAYING what was on their heart. My eyes saw those words. My boys SAID they love me with their voice box. My ears heard that.
We have a handful of holidays or Hallmark days that we set aside to voice our appreciation–Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and all of that. Add to those days a birthday, anniversary, and Christmas. That’s not very many days really if that’s the only time we do it. What am I saying? This: Let’s cultivate an attitude of affirmation in our lives. This doesn’t mean false flattery where we just lay on the syrupy compliments and cliche “atta boys”. That’s gross and everybody knows when it’s happening. Let’s do less of that. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t take someone aside and deal with an issue that needs taken care of. Or even get into the face of someone we care about very much. We better do that. Who else will? I simply mean that I’m going to constantly look for those qualities in the lives of people that are awesome. And I’m going to say it. I can’t say it when they’re dead. I want to say it now. You know, people constantly hear criticism and get beat down over all the stuff they fail at. They know what they stink at! They don’t need me constantly pointing it out. Instead I want to say, “I noticed that great attitude in the middle of terrible circumstances. Most people would have gotten bitter, but not you. Great job!” I want to buy them a coffee and let them know they are the most servant hearted person I know. They do their thing in obscurity and they need to know that there is one set of eyes that notices that. I want to be that guy. Everybody else is telling them their flaws. For all I know it may change their life.
One last paragraph, I’m almost done. In our affirming, let’s hug and kiss and say I love you a lot. Not luv ya, but “I love you.” I didn’t use to be like that. Being a dad has made me more sensitive, I think. Or maybe it was having a best friend at Dallas Seminary that was Italian. Italians don’t hug you. They frisk you! Serious, there’s something about a deep embrace isn’t there? It’s sort of the exclamation mark on what you’ve just said or heard. Father’s Day is over, but let’s make this the beginning of something much better–a lifestyle of grace, intimate relationships, irresistible influence, and lasting impact. Do you think that will remind them of someone else? Yeah, me too.