Saturday, November 05, 2005

Words Of Affirmation

As I sat listening to the, not hardly five foot girl speak in Sunday morning chapel, she spoke emotionally about her father. Konya’s father, a nominal Christian living in the northeast of India, loves his daughter and had great aspirations for her life. Konya is bright and outgoing and her dad wished that one day she would enter politics. To that end she was moving, until she accepted Christ at a youth meeting. Her life was transformed. Leaving the ambitions of a career in the secular world, Konya took a job working for a Christian organization, much to her parent’s disappointment. After a few years her fellow workers, no doubt seeing her potential, encouraged her to pursue further studies. She is now in her second year pursuing her MA in missions.

Konya broke down as she talked about how that all her other friends at home had good jobs and was getting on with life. Then, fighting back the tears with lips quivering she said, “But I am still dependent on my parents.”

The bond between a father and daughter is unique. I know, as I have two precious grown daughters of my own. As Konya spoke I thought of how, because of her close relationship with her father she cares what he thinks. Her motivation in life is to serve Christ regardless of the price, but in the deep recesses of her heart she is motivated to please her earthly father as well. No greater affirmation can a child receive in life than a word of “I’m proud of you,” from your father or mother. That’s true if the child is three or fifty-three.

But the words of affirmation only have meaning if the relationship is grounded in affection. If throughout the child’s life they have been criticized and made to feel of little worth, even a “good job,” rings hollow. A son or daughter from a negative home atmosphere is likely to say, “I could care less what my parent’s think.” If the motivation is to gain acceptance from an abusive parent, will it ever be satisfying? Probably not.

Konya’s testimony reminded me, first, to remember to be mindful of my children and grandchildren. They don’t need my affirmation, but may they always know that I am proud of them no matter how God leads them in life. Second, and most importantly, I am reminded that my Father loves me, is proud of me, and I long to hear Him say, “Well done.”