She frowns slightly when she concentrates hard. She’d gathered her supplies – mum’s special pens, a blank card, some extra paper to cut hearts from to stuff the envelope with.
This people lover of mine teaches me lessons in gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis.
Last week she carefully copied out a recipe for home made sausage rolls, for her teacher who mentioned she loved them.
Yesterday she followed me around asking if she could do any of my jobs – no task I gave her was too big, she hung washing, folded clean laundry, washed dishes and helped to tape around the edges of the decking, before it was re-oiled.
And today, that frowning, concentrating face created a thank you card, and she asked if we could pretty please stop at the shops on the way home from church for some flowers, and then drop them off to the person’s heart she had in mind.
I like to think I’ve taught her to be so considerate, and maybe there are elements I can take credit for, but mostly it’s how she was knitted together. The fabric of her being was stitched with an innate sense of the state of the hearts of others. And a desire to affect them for their good.
She appreciates deeply.
The other day she ran into her room when she got home from school and ran straight back out to the kitchen again. Breathlessly she said, “Mum, I want to say thank you for two things: one, for cleaning up my room, and two, for remembering to get my ballet costume out today.” A quick flurry of arms around my waist and then she’s off again.
When she’s thankful, she mentions it.
When she thinks someone should be acknowledged for something good, she acknowledges them.
When someone needs to be appreciated, she appreciates without hesitation.
Appreciation is a gift. It’s very definition means to recognise the full worth of. To treasure, cherish, and hold in esteem.
Brene Brown says “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Appreciation is important in friendship, in any relationship. To be heard, seen and valued.
The times I’ve felt most discouraged in a friendship is when I’ve felt unappreciated, unvalued. When my pouring out of myself goes constantly unrecognised.
Because I have known deeply what it is to be unappreciated, I am aware of the need of the relationships in my world to hear my appreciation. To know that they are valued and wanted and needed in my life. Philosopher William James said “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to feel appreciated”. Paul wrote in Romans that we should do all that we can to live in peace with everyone.*
This girl of mine continues to show me the beauty and simplicity of authentic appreciation.
A little note by my bed, a picked flower from the garden, a genuine thank you.
The simple stopping to truly take notice of the state of the heart of the person before you, and acknowledge it with gratitude doesn’t take much but has endless repercussions.
Who do you need to appreciate today?
* Romans 12:18