When my kids were little-er I read a lot of parenting books and websites and blogs. I wanted to know all about how to parent them well. I read a lot of good advice and a lot of weird advice. I took some, I left some, I laughed at some, I rolled my eyes at some.
One piece of advice I learned before I had kids of my own was to call out the good in people, not just the bad. You need to discipline your kids and correct them when they’re wrong, but they also need to hear you praise them. Praise them way more often than you correct them. I’ve been attempting to do that since they were born. I hope they will remember the good things I’ve called out in them.
Today, I got a taste of how important that nugget of advice is. I’m an adult and no one is parenting me like I’m parenting my kids, so no one is consciously trying to call out good in me–or bad. You forget that you need that kind of encouragement and constructive criticism in your life just as much as your kids do. Well today, someone called something out in me. Or maybe I should say, they called something out to me.
I was walking down Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis (my favorite city, you know) when a car passed and a young man unrolled the window and told me I was beautiful.
Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. He may have driven past at 35 miles per hour and yelled out the window “[Four letter word]! Look at those pretty ladies!”
Like I said, I need to hear encouraging words… It doesn’t take much…
My sisters and I took my mom to the London Tea Room this afternoon. We dressed up in our cutest summer dresses, sat and talked, ate and sipped tea out of china tea cups for hours in this little restaurant. It was a lovely afternoon. It wasn’t until I had left the girls and was on my way to church when I looked down and saw the tag of my dress sticking out in front of my chest. My dress had been on backwards the whole day! And no one said anything!
But I still got holla’d at!
(Yep… Still got it…)
I went in to church and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I headed straight for the bathroom to switch my dress around. But it wasn’t the wardrobe blunder that called out something negative in me.
No, it was a few minutes later. I sat down in the auditorium next to my husband on the front row before the service started. The musicians were taking their places on the stage and I was chatting with the people around me when Randall said something snarky. I took my program and swatted him on the arm just as the music started playing. It made a rather loud “snap” but I was pretty sure it didn’t do much damage. The worship leader stepped up with his mic in hand.
“Emily, I saw that. You can’t get away with that in here.” His voice echoed through the auditorium.
My jaw dropped. My cheeks flushed. Are you talking to me?! Are you reprimanding me in front of the Church?! You PUNK!” I thought to myself, though my face remained unchanged, pink cheeked and mouth agape for the first half of the first song.
At least my dress was on the right way when the congregation looked at me as I was publicly scolded.
Ok, those are silly examples, but I really was encouraged today. I walked down Washington with a smile on my face. And I really was corrected today. I won’t ever hit my husband again (in church).
In all seriousness, I was also reminded this week that I need to take better care of myself. It was humbling but I needed to hear it.
I was also encouraged just tonight by someone sending me a note to tell me how much I impacted them in the past. That was humbling, too. And I needed to hear it!
It’s okay to correct your kids. You need to do that. It’s okay to correct your friends. You should. In truth and love. But don’t forget to praise your kids, too. Praise your friends. Praise your spouse. Praise the cute girl walking down the street. We all need to be called out once in a while.