Benjamin West, British artist, first became aware of his own artistic skills one day when his mother went out, leaving him to baby-sit his sister, Sally. In her absence he discovered some bottles of colored ink. To amuse Sally, he began to paint her portrait. In doing so, he made a real mess of things. When his mother returned, she deliberately looked beyond the mess, picked up the piece of paper, and smiling, looked deep into his eyes and said, "Why, it's Sally!" Benjamin West would say for the rest of his life, "My mother's kiss made me an artist."
Tucked away within the life of every child are wonderful and unique characteristics. Some are gifted physically, some intellectually. Others have a natural perceptiveness, some, an eagerness to love. God has kissed each child with a uniqueness—a "specialness." What is your child's?
As you think on this, let me share an insightful scripture, Proverbs 20:5: "A plan in the heart of a man [or woman] is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out."
Deep within every life, hidden inside the secret vault of your being, lies your heart. As a parent, you have been entrusted by God with the responsibility to help your child discover the plan of his or her heart ... to draw out their "specialness." The way to do that is through your attention and your words. I don't mind being empathetic when I say the greatest gift you can give your child is a continued stream of positive affirmation.
When my sons learned to mow the grass I found myself saying, "You missed over there." While we were alone one day, my wife said to me, "When are you going to learn, honey, you have them mowing the grass for you? You could go over there and do that quick little spot. They're mowing most of the yard!" She was right. I got to where I would say instead, "What a great job! Terrific!"
I want you to think about your family. If you're not married, think about the family you've come from. How has your family shaped who you are? How have affirming words strengthened you? How have negative words hurt you? Now, which do you want to characterize your home? Wouldn't it be a great moment for you to say, "Lord, You continually affirm me. Teach me how to do that with others, especially those closest to me."
Your home will be stronger, your light in the community brighter, and your heart lighter, with this one decision. Encourage each other with your strengths, in your weaknesses, and in your uniqueness. You'll love the results.
You shall teach [these words] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7
Excerpted from Growing Closer to God, Insight for Living Press, 2001.
To purchase this book, call your local Insight for Living office or visit www.insight.org.
From Insights Newsletter Vol. 10, No. 3. March 2000.
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