My brother Brad took this photograph of our mom several years ago during a trip to Paris and Amsterdam.
I recently had the awkward experience of receiving criticism regarding my personal character. Though I felt somewhat distressed to hear specific comments made about me, a difficult situation turned into an unlikely blessing when my mother spoke in my defense. She said, "You wouldn't always choose your relatives as your friends, but I would choose Barry as my friend."
She went on to describe my relationship with my children. She said (and I paraphrase), "I came from a family where people sat at the table and no words were exchanged. On the other hand, Barry's family sits at the table and the children talk with one another; they laugh, and make things, and do things together as a family. They go on trips and take family walks. Barry teaches them about his culture and spirituality. His family is beautiful. I love to be around them."
She also described my personal character as an individual: "Barry is a fighter. He always tries to do the best in life."
We so rarely hear these kinds of words in our day to day living. We get so caught up in our mundane affairs, we often forget to express words of caring or support. But when it really matters, my family rises up to support me. Ironically, I may never have heard those words were it not for the criticism I received earlier in the day. Hearing her say those things brought tears to my eyes. It really was affirming and beautiful.