A couple of weeks ago, I sat having tea at the home a dear member of the congregation I serve. She talked to me about her husband of many years. She told me of his strong faith and dedication to the church, and then she said, looking me in the eye, “I’m very proud of his faith.”
I haven’t been able to get that out of my head.
I’m reminded of the big (almost obnoxiously so) photo of my husband and me on our wedding day that hangs in our bedroom. As I get older, I’m surprised at how young we look and how much time has gone by since our wedding day. Our wedding guests wrote notes to us on the mat surrounding the photo. I treasure them all, but one hits me in the gut every time I read it. In the midst of lovely words like love always, best wishes, and congratulations, it says be proud of each other.
So often we forget to be proud—not only in our marriages, but in all our relationships.
So much is packed into that little saying—be proud of each other. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Look for the best in one another. When times are difficult, affirm. Words of praise need to be part of your regular conversations. Remember how fortunate you are to be together.
I think of the way I get embarrassed when my son says, “You’re the best mom in the world.” I immediately think of why I don’t deserve it. I think of the too many nights in a row he ate chicken nuggets. I think of the week he wore the same outfit to school for several days (probably one day more than he should have). I think of every reason why I don’t deserve such sweet, sincere words of praise.
Yet what if I believed those words? What if, in his world, I’m the best mom for him? I can forget about the days I can’t remember the last time he had a bath. Instead, I’ll think of what I do well—baking cookies with him, starting dance parties in the kitchen, and reading him stories before bed. I'll remember it every time I tell him I'm proud of him and see his delighted smile.
What if our churches were places of praise? What if we focused on being proud of one another? We'll look at someone sitting on the other end of the pew and see the best. We'll celebrate each other's accomplishments and lift up each other's gifts. In the midst of all this affirmation, we’ll live into our best selves. It’s not a simple fix to bigger problems, but I think it’s a start. What if we said to one another, “I’m proud of your faith?” These are grace-filled words.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.--1 Corinthians 1:4-7