When Adelade and Sawyer were babies, I was just entering the world of doing without for the sake of my kids. Instead of buying myself clothes, I would always find myself taking what little money I had for shopping straight into the baby department. I, who had for six years been a working, married adult, making my own money and shopping only for myself, suddenly found myself with a fairly empty closet, staying at home with two little people, wearing jeans and t-shirts every day, getting plainer and plainer by the spit-up stained minute.
I had a friend at church who would often approach me after Sunday school and tell me how beautiful she thought I was. I honestly don’t know what she saw on those Sunday mornings when I arrived, frazzled, but her words made a huge impact on me. And, to this day, almost ten years later, I still replay them in my head as words of affirmation and encouragement. The truth is that her simple, sweet words breathed life into an otherwise unremarkable-feeling young woman at that time, and I will always love her for taking the time to tell me what she saw in me on those long-ago Sunday mornings.
The truth is that I often see people, friends and strangers alike, and am struck by their beauty. By their talents and abilities. By their knack for putting together pretty outfits. By their kind spirit or their unending patience. I have these thoughts multiple times every day of my life. But, many times I don’t take the time to say so. I walk on by and keep thoughts to myself that could make a huge difference in their day. I find myself holding back on encouraging people, even though the encouraging thoughts are always filling my head because people are so fascinating and beautiful in so many ways.
Why not just say it?
When we think of the call to love one another, we tend to imagine the really hard stuff. We think of hugging a homeless man on the street or flying to Africa to hand out Bibles or forgiving someone who has deeply wounded us. All of these things are good in their own context. But, what if we’re complicating things too much? What if we start right in our own heads, with our own mouths, simply speaking a kind word to a friend when her hair looks really nice? Or approaching a stranger in Target and telling her what a sweet mom she seems to be? What if we just say the encouraging thoughts that pop into our heads throughout the day?
I’m not talking about phoniness. I’m not talking about flattery. Christians should never be guilty of handing out compliments to make themselves look good or to try and get something out of someone. I’m simply suggesting that when we have a positive thought about someone, we should voice it right away. We may never know what kind of impact our words could have on someone’s day, on someone’s life.
The Bible tell us that gracious words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24) We just never know which souls that we encounter are in need of a little sweetness, a little encouragement. And with less than a minute of our time, the Holy Spirit may use our simple words to speak healing into someone, on a day when they really need some healing.
It’s such an easy way to love.
When Adelade was about four, my friend moved away, and then we moved away, too, and I lost contact with her. She probably has no idea that her comments still come back to me to this day, sweet encouragement at times when I need it. I want my words to hang delicious over someone’s head, always ready to breathe life and healing into them when they need some. It’s such a simple imperative: See the beauty and good in people, and say what you see. If we start today, who knows how much love we can dole out, one sweet word at a time?