I guess God really has some things to say to me about my words lately. I shared recently about what God showed me when I caught one of my kids moving her messes instead of cleaning them up like she was supposed to. God convicted me that I was guilty of moving my messes with my words when I spread negative talk about situations, or when I vented too much about others instead of going directly to them with my offense. Shortly after this thought-provoking clean up session, I had an experience where someone showered me with the kindest words. It was the icing on the cake to this lesson. I know what negative words can do – I’ve experienced that so many times. But the generosity of this stranger’s words really showed me the impact of being so generous with kind words.
Hannah and I were recently out shopping in Home Goods. We had some time and some gift cards to squander. We were looking at all the pretty things. Feeling all the soft blankets. Wandering to our hearts’ content.
In the kitchen organization aisle (one of the BEST aisles in the store!!!) we happened upon a kind older woman with her little dog. We exchanged a bit of small talk about the dog and the store. And then she proceeded to ask me if I was Hannah’s mom or sister. I chuckled and told her I was mom, and I appreciated her kindness so much because my 40th birthday was fast approaching. She was dumbfounded! Truly flabbergasted. She gushed on about how I “couldn’t possibly be….” I looked “far too young to be…” Now, she was a complete stranger to me, so maybe her eyesight wasn’t the best?! But I will never know! All I will know and what I will remember forever, was how kind she was to me, how generous, how lavish her words were. And she was a complete stranger.
There are many wonderful friends and family members in my life who are generous with their kind words towards me. I know the balm that the words of a friend can be. But I have rarely been so positively impacted by a stranger’s words. Until this experience, I never considered the potential of my impact as a stranger to someone else. What I realized through this encounter is that every person I cross paths with, stranger or not, is an opportunity. There are three choices on the path: I can say nothing, leave no impact. I can be rude, and leave a negative impact, or I can be lavish and generous with kind words. That stranger in Home Goods left me feeling like I was walking in the clouds that day. To think, I could have that kind of impact in another complete stranger’s day, if I took the time. I’m often in a rush when I’m out and about, or working, or just doing the daily grind. What if I slowed down enough to really see people? What if I was generous with kind words, intentional about lavishing them on others?
Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I certainly learned how true this verse is on that day in Home Goods.
Both of these lessons on my words – the messes of negative words, and the power of kind words – are also reflected in a well-known Proverb. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring life or death.”
Every word is an opportunity. If only we were more careful when choosing what to say! What would your world be like if you considered your words each time you opened your mouth, if you filtered them through these two verses:
Are these words bringing life, or death?
Will these words be sweet to the soul of the listener?
Because of this experience, I want to slow down, to see people, to be intentional, and to see the opportunities to lavish kind words on another, to choose words that bring life and sweetness to someone else’s soul.
It costs you nothing to be generous with your words. And you never know the impact you may have on some nearly-40-year-old’s day!