My friend and I were at lunch this past week, and she gave me the sweetest compliment. I just kind of waved it away verbally but she made my heart so happy by her generous observation. Her words have been in my mind many times in the past couple days, a soothing balm that counters the many abrasive comments I see and hear throughout each day.
Isn’t it amazing how a simple compliment can change our day? How the memory of kind words can give us that jolt of encouragement just when we need it? I have a box at work that I call my box of joy. It has cards, letters and photos given to me over the years; some from jobs I left, others to say thank you, and there are some that are just for encouragement and happy thoughts. It’s filled with beautiful memories from some wonderful people that I can pull out whenever I need them.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 NIV
When we speak beautiful words of encouragement and kindness to a friend or even an acquaintance, it is life-giving. I was in the grocery one afternoon and told a woman I didn’t know how pretty her dress was. Her eyes welled up with tears and she hugged me and said you have no idea how much I needed to hear that today. A simple statement made a difference for her in that moment.
A simple compliment to a stranger.
A word of support to a Mom whose children are tired and acting out.
A thank you when someone holds the door open.
A smile as your eyes meet.
A world that is so divided and angry needs more encouragement, big and small. I often get discouraged when I visit twitter. It has become a place of so much hate, fear mongering and anger. I rarely go on anymore, but on those occasions I do, as I scroll through the arguing, name calling and fault finding there will be one sweet tweet that reminds me of the world I want to live in. Words of affirmation and encouragement that lift my heart up and make me smile.
“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.” Proverbs 11:17
It’s not only the words we hear that can affect us, but the words we say. Have words ever come out of your mouth that you immediately regretted? Have you ever said something in anger or spite that you wish you hadn’t? I certainly have, and the thoughts that haunt my mind leave me feeling lonely and sad.
Then, there are the times that we say something less than stellar in front of others. I will never forget the day my Mom and I were at an ice cream shop and I told the teenager waiting on us that I was sure the milk shakes were better at Baskin Robbins. (I am asking for a little grace here, because I was a teenager) My thought wasn’t to hurt the girl’s feelings but to let my mother know I would rather be at Baskins Robbins. The look on that young girls face and the tone of my Mom’s voice let me know, without hesitation, I blew that one completely. And being a teenager, I looked at my Mom with my hands in the air and said “What!?”
Words matter. They can release a sweetness to our souls and bring healing to our spirits. They can also pour salt into a wound or leave our hearts bruised and battered. Our own words can leave us feeling free and happy or lost and broken.
Be an encourager. Help people heal their broken, comfort their souls and have happy hearts. We all could use more of that.