“Appreciations” – A Lesson on Love .

I know I often share on relationships. this past weekend I had a retreat and it was awesome to share with friends. Relationships are just my thing, I guess.

I remember when I was younger, I was particular about defending the one who was in need of justice. And this was either kids who were bullies, or the forgotten ones. Most bullies liked me when I was  younger, though so I’d manage to ward off them from the ones who were vulnerable. I can truly say in my lifetime I’ve definitely had a lot of ‘favor’ with people who were either forgotten or  hurting inside and wanted others to hurt, too. They  just  tend to  take to my personality.

photo by Aaron Burden

During a  retreat  I organized this weekend on spiritual gifts –  an  activity we completed, really  soothed my soul. I was able to not only see myself through the eyes of others; through a very intentional exercise.  I was able to get feedback on why   I am a valued friend, and sometimes when your   mind’s eye gets  a  little fuzzy, it’s good to have friends who redeem that sense of pride inside.

I learned this game called “Appreciations”, several years ago – when I was a part of a leadership diversity conference I attended yearly for about five years. Here’s how it unfolds: before we leave our small groups at the end of the conference. ; we’d say goodbye though ‘appreciation’ of one another. The groups were so enlightening. We’re able to see the visceral  courage and stamina of others and we’d share our stories with great meaning; so it helped to hear their character, then hear it from the heart of friends.

It left most of us crying, but boosted our esteem immensely.

I loved this exercise so much,  I took it home to my family, in Rochester, New York one year and we  completed the exercise  after  spending time together on  Christmas. It took about two hours  or so – but 20  awesome people in my family  went around the circle one by one and  appreciated each person in that  circle – for who they are and told them why they loved them.  Of course, ALL OF US by the time we were all finished,  had experienced “Appreciations”, and  there was not a  dry eye in the room.  Even my brothers  and their sons were crying!! That kind of blew me away… honestly. I mean when can you find a  family of 20 in intimacy  and love in  a span  of 2 hours and just living on each other just because…. ? And  who   does that, anyway?

I really believe our intentionality, love and  commitment to one another , our grace and our belief, in our family strength resonated  immensely.  Healing poured forth, perceptions were  healed and strengthened, and even a wall down,  or through. I am assuming this experience  will be forever imprinted on our minds. We were ALL exhorted that day, and it felt immensely GOOD.

The power of appreciation, don’t underestimate the  gravity of it.


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