I recently watched the 2014 Academy Awards. Since I run a website reviewing films from a social work perspective – and even handed out my own awards for films portraying adoption themes – I take a special interest in the personalities of those who won the Oscars.
Awards ceremonies are often mocked for fake smiles and long-winded acceptance speeches. This year, though, there was a speech that was particularly touching to me. Lupita Nyong’O won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her acceptance speech was grateful and enthusiastic. Nyong’O won the award for her portrayal of Patsey, a female slave.
In Nyong’O’s speech, she acknowledged that her award was due to “so much pain in someone else’s life.” She honored Patsey, her fellow actors, her director, her family, her teachers, and her friends. She promised young viewers that their dreams are valid. Her joy and gratefulness were inspiring and touching. If you haven’t seen her speech, check it out here.
Her speech reminds me of Fred Rogers’ acceptance speech for his 1997 Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award. He held a theater full of celebrities in silence, asking them to remember “those who have cared about you, and wanted what was best for your life.” For ten seconds, actors and actresses, producers and directors were reminded of those who had loved and nurtured them. If you’ve never seen the speech, please do here.
If you’ve taken the six minutes to see those speeches, you’ve heard genuine expressions of thankfulness. I hope it’s been uplifting to see people celebrate the good achievements in their life, and honor the ones who made those achievements possible.
You have achieved much, too. As members of NACSW, we’re trying to integrate our faith and our practice. This suggests that we both have both faith and are engaged in social work practice. These are two good things! I join you in celebrating your Christian faith and in celebrating the fact that you have chosen a career in social work – and that you have achieved what you needed to, scholastically, to get here. Congratulations! Take a second to appreciate the good aspects of your life circumstances, as your life stands now!
Now – please take a moment to remember those who helped you get here. Which people in your life pointed you to Jesus? Who stood with you during your most difficult crises of faith? Who pointed you to social work? Which teachers, professors, co-workers and supervisors have been formational for you? Who has modeled for you the positive integration of faith and practice? Might I humbly suggest that now would be a wonderful time to take a moment to name them, and to thank God for the work in your life God accomplished through each of them. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.
OK, last thing. Sometime today, write a note to one of those people thanking them for the person they’ve been in your life. So many times, people don’t realize how much of an impact they have had in your life, and your note may a blessing to them.
May God bless you as you go about your work and life with a spirit of gratefulness!
Addison C. is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California and Missouri. He reviews films and writes movie discussion guides for foster and adoptive families at Adoption at the Movies, and is a supervisor at a foster care and adoption agency in Southern California. Find him on Twitter @AddisonCooper.