Pom-poms are standard factory issue on all human beings. We are created to celebrate and encourage other people, and to be celebrated and encouraged. One of the first things we teach babies to do is to clap their hands. I have held the chubby little hands of my kids and my grandkids as I chanted “patty-cake, patty-cake…”. Then these little ones do something extraordinary like putting a cookie in their mouth and we applaud wildly. When they count to ten, recite their ABC’s and tie their own shoes we go wild with praise. Potty-training is rewarded with the likes of an Olympic Gold Medal. We are made for praise. We are made to praise.
For most of us, it seems that growing up has been a systematic lesson in subduing our pom-poms. School grades seem to focus on what we’re not good at rather than the areas we excel. “Good job!” is the response when a kid does something well but when that same child does something wrong the response is much bigger, carrying heavy consequences. Somehow we learn to mildly accept our successes and focus on our shortcomings. And we do the same to others.
This is not a study on child-rearing or acceptable means of discipline. Rather, I want a revival of pom-poms. Seriously. Go to the attic or the garage and dig out those pom-poms (metaphorically speaking). Pause for a few minutes and ponder your life: what have you done well today? Perhaps you went to work, did your job, came home and hung out with friends or family. Nothing special? Wait! You faithfully went to your job and gave a days work for a days wage. That’s faithfulness. Now shake those pom-poms! Were you home today working, schooling your kids, planning dinner and straightening the house? Get out those pom-poms! You have served your family well today. What an investment of your time and energy. Maybe today you went to the beach or hiked the foothills or read a book. Well done!! God’s creation, solitude and self-care are worthy of celebration. Flap those pom-poms! I trust you are getting the idea here. Recognize where in your life you are living faithfully and with fun.
How about with others? Where do you see your spouse or roommate living well and faithfully? Is there a co-worker who is working hard or has helped you out? Have you really praised your kids today? Please note: I am not talking about flattery or making things up. I’m talking about having eyes to see the good in us and in others. It doesn’t take something hugely impressive to deserve celebration and encouragement…it just takes someone noticing when there is faithfulness, dependability and joy. If you’re at the market and the checker is particularly kind, whip out those pom-poms and make their day. Sometimes a sincere smile at someone is a beautiful pom-pom experience.
Here’s the thing…once you retrieve your dusty pom-poms and begin to use them, you will find countless opportunities to encourage, celebrate and delight others as well as yourself. Then you develop a lifestyle rather than an event. You become the joy-bringer to those around you. If you deem yourself to be too dignified for pom-poms, then I’m sorry for you. You will miss out on so many chances for your heart to expand and your life to be lit up. Pom-poms are standard factory issue on each one of us…you can perfect the use of them. Just do it.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Isaiah 50:4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
Matthew 25:4 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:14-30 is the whole parable and teaches us the importance of recognizing and using the gifts and abilities God has given each of us…like pom-poms)