Saturday, October 13, 2012

So Proud of You!

In the last month I have had the opportunity to see a lot of good things and hear about a lot of sad things.  Life is like that sometimes.  Focusing on the good helps us to overcome the bad.

Several times I heard my voice saying, “I’m proud of you” to one member or another of the younger generation.  And I mean it.  I am sure I enjoy children more than the average Bapka, but I revel in their grown-up accomplishments.  It makes my heart smile.

I don’t even have to have a real, solid, individual connection to an accomplished young person to feel pride for them.  It is not that I feel as though I had anything to do with their success.  I just like to see people doing well what they do.  I am energized by their energy.

So, what’s happened, you ask?  Get your coffee and let me encourage you a bit.

I went to a concert in Bloomington, Minnesota on a recent Friday night.  I watched a family of girls singing praises in perfect harmony and genuine joy who made my heart smile.  I saw a young man on the keyboard smiling, laughing, organizing an event which wove lives together from hither and yon.  I heard a band of young men playing in synch full of energy and life!  The next day, the same group got together for brunch.  Iron sharpening iron, their stories unknown to one another, but often read by me.  

They thought they shared a love of music and Jesus only.  If I had been an artist, I might have drawn above them a picture of the brokenness that really draws them together.  I know their stories, each.  I have watched them face tragedy, humiliation, trauma and other difficulties that - to someone else - might have justified drug use, alcoholism, violence, bitterness, cynicism.  Instead, there they were giving hope and compassion to the world.  Using their talents as a vehicle for good to change the world.   Doing well.

And making me say over and again, “I’m so proud of you.”

Another church, another day, I heard the words again repeated.  Different circumstances, different story, but the depth of the phrase rang ever more true.

This time I had spent a conversant hour with two very dear friends.  I listened, mostly, to them share their grief over someone’s failure.  Their personal sadness, their personal “did I do enough?” questions, their personal fears laid bare.  My heart hurt for them because I understand the personal sense of loss when you watch someone failing.  You can’t chose their path, you can’t walk their steps, you can’t turn them back when they misjudge.  

You can only question yourself again and again, “did I do all I could to help them?”

Funny how I feel so personally connected to someone’s failure.  As though it’s all my fault.  

But I never feel responsible for someone’s success.  As though it’s because of me.

I remember teaching my son, Johnathon, to ride a bike.  We lived at the bottom of a steep hill and it seemed a perfect solution.  I could help him up the hill a way and then gravity would help him go down the hill making it a little less strenuous on me.  Up we would go and down again with me holding the handlebars or the back of the seat and trying to help him learn to balance.  As soon as he would falter, I would be there to right him. 
Encouragement filled the air, “You are doing great!  Look at you!  See?  You can do this.”

It didn’t take long, not nearly long enough to me.  I let go and there he went!  Wind throwing his hair back, daredevil smile covering his face, laughter bubbling!  “You did it!” I called.

If he fell, it would surely have been my fault.  I would be readily on hand to clean the wounds, comfort the boy and fix the bike.  But when he rode away, it was all on him.  

That’s how I feel when I say, “I’m so proud of you.”  I mean I’m glad you are spreading your wings and doing well.  Go farther, do more, leave me in the dust!  

But if you start to falter, I’ll be here to catch you.  I'll do all I can to get you started again.  Heavy hearted, sad for the loss, disappointed in myself for not doing more to hold you up – I’ll be here.    

And when we get the bike off the ground and the wind is lifting you again, I’ll say even more decidedly, “I’m so proud of you!”


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  1. Bless you Kris. You knew I would relate. You brought a lump to my throat and moisture to my eyes. Not sure what I'll do with this info, but it's comforting to know you, and probably countless others, understand. Thanks for the heads up. Write on!

  2. Kris:) I can say this with a big smile on my face, "I am SO very proud of you! Love ya and keep writing:)

  3. Encouraging. la