Are You Being Honest With Yourself?: a guest post by Nathan Phillips on Appreciation

Writing about or describing the life of appreciation can be a little overwhelming. What is my life, or who am I to describe to anyone what it means to live a life of appreciation?

When I think about an appreciative person I instantly think about my campus minister.  He ministered to me, and I got to minister alongside of him for a couple of years.  He was extremely intentional about telling me “thank you”, and— so much so— that for the longest time I found myself confused about why he would thank me so much.  I could not possibly be doing something that good to deserve such acknowledgment and appreciation.  Though I may have doubted my ability to be appreciated by another, I did not doubt his honesty.

And this brings me to honesty and its role in appreciation in my life.  I think in some ways honesty is a necessity for demonstrating appreciation.  Could it be that to really show appreciation, an individual must be honest with him/herself and then honest to another?  When we outwardly acknowledge the act or gift that another person gives us, are we also acknowledging our need of it or the desire for it? In the end, showing appreciation is the recognition of our own individual limitation and our need for friendships and relationships in our everyday life.

Honesty in thanksgiving also brings out our vulnerability. When I give thanks for someone’s kind words, a conversation with a friend, or even small bits of wisdom that are shared with me, I am acknowledging that these things are undeserved instruments of God’s grace in my life.  Then, I give thanks to God for allowing me to participate in life together with a friend if even for just a brief moment, and for the mutual exchange of wisdom that comes from relationships that have left me forever different.  Honesty and vulnerability: two elements of appreciation that renew a person by the gift of Jesus Christ in the world.