I pulled into the stone driveway of the old farmhouse and walked up to the back door. The wonderful aroma of dinner on the stove came through the screen and stirred my appetite. I was invited to Stu and Nina’s for dinner and I always counted on being blessed every time I was with them – I was never disappointed.
Nina saw me before I could knock and welcomed me in with her naturally warm personality. Her ability to make others feel welcome was second to none and I instantly felt at home. She politely engaged me in conversation while she shifted back to stirring the green soup on the stove.
The soup was all natural and made from green tomatoes and kelp. It wasn’t dark like pea soup and looked vividly tasteful and healthy. Not familiar with many green foods, I was a bit hesitant with my first bite, but found the flavor exceptional. There is nothing like homemade soup that is made with loving hands.
Stu pulled the barbeque chicken from the grill and greeted me with a smile equal to none. A joy poured out from within him the moment his eyes caught mine, making me feel loved and appreciated. His charismatic lifestyle always made me feel like I was his equal, although he probably had more developed character qualities than I could ever hope to muster.
The quaint meal was delicious and the conversation stimulating, as we ate at the kitchen table next to a wall covered in family photos. I had known Nina for about 25 years or more and Stu for a dozen. The time went quickly as we reminisced and brought each other up to date on our lives and families.
After dinner we cut through the formal dinning room and retired into the living room. Stu sat down and snuggled into his comfy place, I flopped down on the floor and pet their cat, and Nina sat on the floor and leaned back against another piece of furniture. There was no pretense, just open hearts and an accepting friendship in the room.
The conversations ebbed and flowed to everything except for how to solve world hunger. Our words were natural and raw and we all listened with accepting hearts and words of encouragement. I was blessed.
Our conversation took a deeper more heartfelt dive just after I suggested it was time to head home. But, not wanting to miss out on such a transparent and authentic moment, I lingered another hour. Our bond to each other grew richer during that time and we encouraged each other on how to be the best us we could be.
During the conversation Nina suggested that she wasn’t sure how God could use her to help and encourage others. Her shared concern was in contrast to Stu and my charismatic dispositions that tend to put us in a place that brings about more attention and from her humble viewpoint, possibly more importance. My knee jerk reaction was to immediately list out Nina’s remarkable qualities.
“Nina, you influence and touch people everyday with your amazing hospitality, generous disposition, warmhearted kindness…”
“… Your compassion for others is life changing; your ability to speak encouragement into other’s lives breathes life into them…” interrupted Stu.
There it was.
I quickly yielded to Stu’s comments as he continued to share from his heart the things he knew made Nina unique, special and valuable. I watched as her eyes locked onto Stu and sparkled. Her husband was filling her soul with words that she could trust. He was speaking the truth in love.
I’m a romantic at heart and love to watch a couple fall in love again and again. Stu’s words of affirmation filled Nina’s heart to a point of overflow. I was convinced that whoever would cross her path over the next three weeks would be caught in their tracks as a recipient of Nina’s grace, mercy and love. I could see it in her eyes. Nothing would stop her from blessing everyone she would encounter in the weeks to come.
I learned that night that the power of affirmation doesn’t happen without being observant of others’ positive traits and reflecting back those traits by sharing our observations.
Stu had clearly paid attention to his wife and thought about her excellent qualities for some time in order to rapidly share those qualities. Stu also was willing to verbalize those words of affirmation without worrying about how clear or eloquent he may or may not have been.
In that moment, I wanted to become an observant sharer like Stu and open my house to others with the sharing of hearts over a bowl of green soup.
Copyright 2014 by CJ Powers