Earl plays the guitar for our praise team. He’s one of those who can play many instruments and play them without notes on paper.
Earl is a big man, younger than my son, older than my grandson. I hold his hand in our prayer circle after practice. His hand is gentle, patient, and strong.
His little girl, Susie, is in my Sunday School class. She’s about to be seven as she puts it.
One day she brought a plush horse to Sunday School and I noticed he had construction paper wings. They were designed and cut and adhered to the horse with tape that stayed on through all Susie’s loving. “Who made your horse’s wings?” I said.
“My daddy,” she said. Later I learned that almost all her critters have wings daddy has made for them. One Sunday she told me about a small worry, and I suggested she tell her Mommy about it. AND my Daddy says Susie adamantly.
After practice on Father’s Day it came to me to compliment Earl on his fathering skills. Everyone likes to be encouraged in this way.
As we left the platform I said I had something I wanted to tell him. A look of fear came into his eyes and I realized that he had perhaps in the past been told a lot of things he didn’t want to hear, but he was brave, he didn’t bolt.
“Susie really loves you, I said. You are a good father.”
“She’s my baby,” he said, still wary.
I told him about the wings and how impressed I was with the way Susie loves him and trusts him.
“Just doing what comes naturally,” said Earl.
I told him I understood that, but that few daddy’s of my acquaintance gave their little daughters the kind of TLC he does.
“Oh, I didn’t know….” His face began to crumple.
In order to escape his embarrassment if he started to cry I started to move discretely away, but he kept pace with me. “Thank you for telling me that,” he said. “You can’t know what it means to me.”
I told him I did understand what he meant. Regular people so rarely see our own excellent qualities.
My grandmother Maire would approve of my telling him how I felt.. She always taught that if you saw something good about someone they deserved a compliment.
Pastor Peter Lord would approve too. His number one message these days is Eulogy:.tell people good things about themselves while they are alive. Don’t wait until you go to their funerals.
Most people need encouragement for the good things they are and do. To coin a phrase a quart of praise is worth more than a gallon of criticism. It’s one gift that makes both the giver and the receiver as happy as can be.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11