Have I told you lately that I love you? Have you told anyone lately that you love them? We are the instruments of blessings for one another or as my Sunday morning television companion, one-man pep rally, Pastor Joel Osteen, says, we need to speak favor over each other. To which I add we also would do well to speak favor over ourselves. Those critical, fault-finding voices which hatch inside our minds are not our friends; the words they parrot (for they had to come from somewhere) were not spoken by friends or those who could see and cherish our good, the occasional poor choice and human frailties notwithstanding.
It is from Pastor Osteen that I learned the notion of speaking favor over someone as a way to catch God's ear and enlist Divine support for all of us with aspirations - for success, for the willingness to try, for a way of seeing our lives as works-in-progress rather than failures. Which is to say everyone, each being a worthy candidate for blessing and the future promise we came here to fulfill.
In his telling of the process, Pastor Osteen extends our power to bless to all whom we encounter. The kind word, the compliment, the appreciation, taking the time to find what is splendid, pleasing, noble and magnificent - on a grand or more modest scale - lets it be known that this person IS blessed, is treasured and seen not only for who they are but who they may become.
To think that each of us has the power to shape or direct the life, or lives, of those around us is humbling and daunting. It calls for mindfulness, attention to our words and intentions; it is responsibility and gift. Will we accept this assignment, gravitas on a daily schedule, or will we disbelieve, disregard the fact that we have been called to be a messenger of empowerment and love?
Revisiting my past, there were voices that spoke only favor over me, grandparents who attended every dance recital, hired me to paint Christmas scenes on their picture windows every December, who took my child self with them most everywhere, from Veterans' picnics to beach vacations. There were other voices as well which spoke faint praise only conditionally, which raged and found fault, spoke sarcasm or no words at all. The difference between them may not actually haunt, but each cell still holds the memory of the effect.
Whose praises will you sing today, whose beaming face will fill your eyes and heart as you speak your delight at their simple existence? In addition to lessons from Pastor Osteen, I have also learned from other sources that the over-spending of time in regret and recrimination is to fall into the past, sink beneath the shame of critical voices, self-applied. Whatever we may have neglected up to this minute, whatever words we long to undo, our only real choice is to let that all go and start anew here, where we stand.
As I accept this mantle, for I know it to be true, I silently, for the moment, compose a list of names and attributes, bringers of gifts and grace, illumination and encouragement, love without requirements, humor and generosity and knowing, that have placed me here. My wish is to acknowledge that nourishment with gratitude and reciprocation while being alert for the openings where my words may make the difference. For today, may favor be our only language and love our only song.