Charlotte runs down to the piano. “Hey, Dad, listen to this!” she yells up. She plinks out her “song”–three keys down, 3 up, down, up–the one Mommy’s just taught her. I come down and when she’s done, I clap and praise her musical genius. Stunning. Transcendent! And I wonder, does she know I’m shining her on with all this?
Oh, Mick, you popped off a flashbulb! Right in my brain!
You’re shining your daughter on, all right. (I’m trusting you mean that in the sense I learned it when I was young and hip enough for slang: pulling her leg, sorta.) But what about this:
You’re shining a father’s encouragement, to illuminate her growing and becoming on the piano. On the earth. In your family.
I hope every father shines his little girl (or boy) on. Every mom, too.
I’d typed and sent the message before I realized exactly what I said. The words arrived, unbidden and welcome, a gift. They visited me like a brave hummingbird, inspecting the prism my eyeglass lenses cast in the sunshine. I sent them on their way without hesitation.
The exchange stuck with me through the day. Two thoughts emerged:
First, among the other gifts he shares with writers, my friend Mick Silva writes good meditations. This one, for example, kept me reflecting all through the day. He brings a unique perspective and awesome encouragement to this business of lining up words. If you’re a writer, you should know him.
Second, it’s time to reappropriate the expression, “Shine you on.” From now on, if I’m shining you on, doesn’t mean I’m ignoring you. It doesn’t mean I’m misleading you. It doesn’t mean I’m pulling your leg or feeding you a line, hoping it will benefit me.
It means I’m doing my best to illuminate your best self–to light up some beautiful aspect of gorgeous you and invite you and others to see it, to value it.
I’m hoping to shine you on often. And I’m hoping you’ll shine me on, too. Because we were made by an awesome Creator. It’s so easy to focus on my flaws (and yours too, I’m ashamed to admit), to think about how I could do better. Be better. Love better.
But when we acknowledge His brilliance, refracted through us, we glorify Him.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB)