We sat around the table after eating Christmas breakfast, and my dad suggested that we take turns telling each other what we like about each other. It was an idea he got from my nephew's wife a few nights prior. So we did, and I was first up to be complimented.
My daughter started by remembering being bullied during her 6th grade year of public school. She remembered coming home and complaining to me about her mistreatment hoping I would get angry along with her and support her lashing out. But, instead, I would ask her if she had done anything against her bullies, and then I would encourage her to rise above the bully mentality and show mercy rather than hatred. As she recalled these memories she told us that at the time she was being bullied it was difficult for her to accept my perspective but that she now appreciates how I taught her to be merciful even in the face of abuse.
My husband said he appreciates my love for truth.
My son and my mom said they appreciate my writing and expressed how much of a positive impact my writing has on them.
My dad said he appreciates my steadfastness across multiple circumstances.
I, of course, appreciate all of the kind words spoken to me about me.
Fifteen years ago I began a healing journey, and along the way I've worried a lot about bearing rotten fruit. My dad has always encouraged me to never allow myself to become bitter, so because of his admonition I've never wanted to bear the fruit of bitterness and have always fought hard against it. I am very thankful for his instruction.
I have found myself applying my dad's encouragement through many negative experiences. Though I've certainly not always maneuvered through my life storms with the gracefulness I prefer, I believe God has helped me rise above bitterness. Our Christmas morning compliment activity confirmed this reality to me and gave me profound clarity.
My daughter said I taught her how to show mercy. I was surprised to realize that lesson came from me. After some of the experiences I've endured it amazes me that I'm capable of showing mercy; it seems more logical that I'd be vengeful and vindictive. But by God's grace I'm not. Instead of bearing the fruit of revenge I've received God's mercy over and over and have become a merciful person. How wonderful to know I gave that fruit of mercy to my daughter.
My husband said I love truth. He's right; I do. I've been asking God to help me value truth since I was 10 years old. I've noticed my love for truth gets stronger as the years go by, and it's happened in spite of the many challenges I've faced against my faith. I believe God has answered my prayer for help, and because of His help my faith challenges have instilled within me an even deeper love for truth, have strengthened my relationship with Him, and have increased my faith. I could have become faithless, but, instead, I bear the fruit of growing faith. And my husband, the one who is the closest to me, the one who knows more about me than anyone else, sees me bearing it.
My son and my mom said they appreciate my writing. I write from a broken heart that has experienced the power of God's healing hand. It is incredible to me that the fruit of healing that I bear through my writing speaks to both my mother and my son.
My dad said he appreciates my steadfastness. I'm steadfast because I have God stories. I have felt my feet slipping often, and every time I feel myself start to fall I remember my God stories. My dad is the one who has encouraged my relationship with God the most, and my relationship with God is the source of my God stories. I'm in awe that my dad, my most avid encourager, recognizes me bearing steadfast fruit.
My recent storms have felt like the darkest and most lonely. I think the reason is because I'm keenly aware of how far I've come. It seems foolish to struggle now after all I've overcome. But I have found I'm still not beyond struggling. My struggles now cause me self-doubt. I tend to often question my value to His kingdom and frequently wonder why my purpose seems lost. And sometimes the weight of struggle feels so heavy I can barely catch my breath.
I have found, however, when I reach what seems to be my weakest point, God consistently steps in and encourages and renews my strength. He did it again on Christmas morning. God gave me a Christmas miracle by giving me a glimpse of myself through the eyes of my loved-ones--the ones whose opinions matter the most to me. In the middle of my current challenges He allowed me to see the fruit of my brokenness.