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“I’m so proud of you.”

These are five words that would completely change my day when Amanda would say them to me . . . Gosh, it would change my week! I am a words of affirmation kind of person, which means I feel most loved when someone affirms me. For that reason I’m extra sensitive to both helpful words directed at me and harmful words. “I’m so proud of you,” she used to say. When I heard these words coming from her, it didn’t matter what kind of difficult task I was trying to undertake, I always felt like I could conquer it with ease!

“I’m so proud of you.”

Amanda used to make fun of me because I often fished for these words from her. I couldn’t hide if very well either. I’d come walking into a room where she was sitting and subtly announce to her my latest and greatest accomplishment: menial things like fixing the leak in the faucet, splitting and stacking firewood, and figuring out how to change an alternator in her civic (even though all credit should go to YouTube for showing me how to do it step-by-step).

“I’m so proud of you.”

That’s all I really needed to hear when I came home from work and over dinner would recount some difficult conversations I had that day. It didn’t matter how terrible I felt those conversations may have gone, if I heard, “I’m so proud of you” from Amanda I would feel like I had handled them with the diplomacy and tact of an experienced strategist.

“I’m so proud of you.”

I was reminded of how much these words meant to me the other day when I received this text from a friend who is both a wife and a mom to a great family:

Hey Davey. Following you on snapchat and just wrapping my mind around the way you’re embracing this new way of life and moving forward. I’m blown away at your discipline, determination and intention on being the best dad you can be – playing both roles as parent, and also leading and pastoring your church. I know some days you must feel so tired, so drained, and frankly, probably pissed at life. I just want you to know what an incredible job you’re doing. You’re impacting so many lives by the way you’re living out The Gospel! I know Amanda is SO PROUD of you! I’m proud of you, too. Just wanted to encourage you to keep on going. You’re doing a GREAT job. Love you and praying for you!

As soon as I read that text I broke down and wept. I had forgotten how much it meant to me to hear Amanda say she was proud of me. Later that day I was spending time with Amanda’s grandmother, Mamaw, and Weston’s cousins. During our conversation Mamaw looked at me and said, “Davey, you’re doing such a great job with Weston. Amanda would be so proud of you.” Again, tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to tell her thank you. Just the thought of Amanda watching Weston and I go about life now and knowing that she is proud of us is almost more than my emotions can handle. Even transcribing those words for this blog post brought tears to my eyes.

I wonder how many men feel the same way I do. I wonder how many men are tired, drained, feel defeated and just need someone to look them in the eye and say, “I’m so proud of you. Keep going. You’re doing great!”

I think moms and wives grossly underestimate the power their words carry. If you’re a mom or a wife reading this, I wish I could emphasize to you enough how potent what you say is to the men in your household. I would lasso the moon and bring it back for Amanda just to hear her say those affirming words again to me.

“I’m so proud of you.”

Amanda used to read this book to Weston called “Thank you, God, for Daddy.” It’s this sweet little book that points out all the reasons we should be thankful for dads. Every time I would overhear Amanda reading it to him, it would bring me to tears. It so simply and yet so profoundly sums up the difficult job it is to be a father and husband.

Frankly, it’s really tough being a dad. Whether single or married, we carry so much weight on our shoulders, so much responsibility in our hearts and minds. But we’re so glad to do it when we feel appreciated. Ladies, a little clue into the heart of a man: Men run to environments where they feel affirmed. If they feel affirmed at work, they’ll spend most of their time there. If they feel affirmed at home, they’ll gladly leave the office to spend more time with family.

I wonder how many households would look and feel drastically different if some women did something this Father’s Day. Rather than just buying dad a grill, or golf clubs, or another set of tools (although these are great too!), tell him these 5 words:

“I’m so proud of you.”

And then start telling him this consistently. I promise, it will completely change him.

This post was originally published at www.daveyblackburn.com.

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Davey Blackburn

Davey is a the founding and lead pastor of Resonate Church located in Indianapolis, IN. He is passionate about seeing people meet Jesus and helping them discover their God-given purpose in life. In November 2015 his wife of 7 years, Amanda Grace, was tragically killed. Since that day Davey has been determined to help people through their valleys in life and teach them that when following Jesus, Nothing is Wasted.

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