Movies with heroes who swoop in to save the day are increasingly popular. Just last year 7 of the 11 top-grossing films involved a superhero, and comic books focusing on heroes are some of the most consumed stories in human history. (1) Millions of people enjoy watching someone with some special power or ability show up on the scene to rescue others, often in the nick of time.
What makes stories centered around a hero appealing is the superpower they used to beat the bad guys. Often, the hero has some supernatural ability or skill that stands out from the rest of us. Some fly over tall buildings; some demonstrate superhuman strength and some are highly intelligent. In most cases, these characters show courage in the face of adversity as they triumph over tragedy.
Humans are made in God’s image. This means we have qualities that reflect the Living God. As children of the King, we have the capacity to love, be creative, use wisdom, forgive others, be generous and more. Another significant quality is our ability to think about and notice the good stuff, feel the good stuff and share the good things. This is a relational skill we learn because the heroes in our family and community use it. This skill is known as Create Appreciation, and I like to call it “packaged joy,” because it is portable. Much like a superhero cape, we can carry this skill everywhere we go. This skill becomes an essential part of our character. As we observe others creating appreciation, we begin to internalize and use this skill in our thoughts, speech, and interactions.
Create Appreciation happens as we focus on and remember God’s gifts in our lives. These gifts may be the people we love, the moments we cherish, and the special things that make us feel peaceful and joyful. God’s gifts reflect His character and flow from His goodness. (3) Create Appreciation is, in a sense, one magnificent way heaven dips down and touches the earth, shining a bright light on God’s goodness in our midst. As we embrace the good stuff from our past we begin to connect with the good things in the present then we anticipate more good stuff in the future. Using this simple skill sparks smiles activates relational circuits, and helps us create belonging. (2) We become a better version of ourselves. By sharing appreciation, we honor God and leave behind a glorious trail of God’s goodness in the wake of our interactions.
The brain that is trained to use Create Appreciation will naturally scan the environment in search of something to enjoy. The brain without this training will land on something or someone to criticize, as well as gripe and complain about what is “wrong.”
Create Appreciation has gotten me through some tough times this past year. At one point this past summer, I was out of commission for three weeks with pneumonia where breathing only happened if I was sitting up in bed. After several rounds of antibiotics and a few visits to the ER, I was feeling miserable. It was during this time I was preparing for an upcoming ministry trip to South Korea. My family was in the midst of packing our house in preparation for an out-of-state move. I vividly recall sitting in bed one night thinking about my impending trip and the big move, along with projects waiting for my attention. In the midst of this turmoil, I found myself thanking God for His gifts. I was thankful for good friends, loving family members and wise colleagues who brighten my life. I felt thankful for my beloved wife and our two sons. I felt gratitude for our new ministry, THRIVEtoday, that launched in January of this year. I remembered the faces, I felt the feelings, and I focused on God’s goodness and presence. As I made this practice a habit throughout my time of sickness, I noticed my attitude shift as my body felt more alert and alive. Create Appreciation became the game-changer so I could better discern God’s presence, stay relational in my weakness and better navigate what became a rough season of life. It is my sincere hope you will embrace this valuable skill so that you can wear your superhero cape and become an agent of transformation for the Kingdom of God. What and who are you thankful for today? Share God’s goodness with anyone who will give a listening ear, and watch what happens!
- Mark Bowden, journalist, and author.
- Learn more about Creating Belonging with the Belonging module in the Connexus curriculum created by Ed Khouri and Jim Wilder.
- Scripture has a lot to say about God’s goodness! Look at Psalm 31:19, 34:8, 84:11 and more. It was God’s “goodness” that passed before Moses in Exodus 33:19.