“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.

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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.