Speak Nice Things

On the left is a picture of my wife, Mel, filling our backyard with camping gear for a an all teen girls camp she is coordinating. On the left is a picture of her working in our children’s school garden on the weekend.

So here’s the thing. Mel is pretty good at volunteering. She always has been. And please keep in mind that this is not a post about how you should be doing more. It’s about how you are doing enough.

There was a time when Mel and I used to argue about how much she was doing for the school, church, community… whatever. The whole time I’d be pointing out what I felt she should be using with her time for. Not to say that she had a problem. She doesn’t. She didn’t. She just likes to help.

If anyone had a problem it was me. I needed to take a step back and look at what she was doing rather than what she wasn’t, because the fact is, she’s been teaching our children some pretty amazing lessons with her service, and it took me far too long to see it that way.

When you’ve been with someone for a long time (13 years in our case) it can be pretty easy to point out every single thing they don’t do. They don’t do the dishes. They don’t make enough money. They don’t get up in the night with the baby. They spend too much time in the bathroom, and not enough time pitching in. Any person married for more than a few months can easily put together a list of what their partner doesn’t do.

But that doesn’t really help anyone. Sure, it’s good to vent. But taking a moment to look at your partner’s contributions can be a game changer in a relationship.

So I’m going to do it right now.

Mel donates time to our community. It used to drive me a little crazy, but now I realize It’s pretty amazing of her. She bring our children along, and they help out too. They work in the school garden. They help organize camping gear. They kind of suck at those things, but that’s not what it’s about. They are learning to give back. They often ask to help their mother with these projects, not realizing that they are also helping their community. Honestly, my kids care about our community better than I ever did at their age.

Mel is teaching that to them, and it’s wonderful. I’m pretty proud to have her in my life, because I’m not nearly as good at this service thing as she is. But I go to this or that function to support her. Turns out she’s teaching me to give back to the community too.

And that’s a good thing.

So let’s try something. I want you to take a step back and look at the person you are with, and list below what they are doing, rather than what they aren’t. Tag that person. I know they will appreciate that you took a moment to appreciate them.

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