Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sticks and Stones....

Ephesians 4:29 NIV Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Words are a powerful thing and today I was reminded how our words can build someone up or tear them down.

I was at our local grocery store this afternoon when I was checking out and the young lady bagging my groceries was not giving her kindest attitude! I mean my items were taking a beating My first instinct was to say something snippy to her about damaging my items, but then I had to stop and think of what might have caused this much aggression to my items. (You see I have worked retail most of my life and still do sometimes on the weekends and summers.) COVID has given a new meaning to working retail. I mean people can be ugly about all these new rules! I get it, it never gives us reason to not give our best to a customer, but we are all human and our bad day turns someone else's day into a bad day. Anyway, I thought I will just pray for these two girls checking me out and bagging my groceries and try to make their day a little bit better. To my joy and excitement, both of them seemed to relax some as I talked and my groceries took less of a beating:) 

I then decided to celebrate my outing with a coffee. Well, these two ladies were also over their day! Their slumped shoulders, facial expressions, and attitudes were all sure signs they were done. I again said a small prayer and tried not to match their tone or feel defeated that everyone seemed to not be happy to help me today. This time it didn't work. My smile or have a great evening wasn't met with anything other than the announcement of my order and a swift turn to the next customer. I know it sounds crazy but I left feeling defeated that I didn't seem to make these girls' day any better. (This is where a side note is necessary: I shop here almost weekly and buy coffee more often than I should. This is not the normal behavior of these employees.) I said a prayer for them as I loaded my groceries into my car. As I turned on the car Zach Williams and Dolly Parton were singing "There Was Jesus." I sat in the parking lot for a moment taking in the words of the song and realized Jesus was there and working even if I couldn't see Him at that moment. It made me think about things going on around me that I can't see.

You see it is sometimes easier to meet animosity with animosity or kindness with kindness, but it takes grace and prayer to meet animosity with kindness. It is a skill I have to pray about often. I am not one to be ugly, but I am human and when I am paying for a service I want a good experience. I have to be reminded that sometimes the animosity I am receiving has nothing to do with me and I am given a chance to allow God to work through me if I just stop and ask Him to take over. We are human and our natural instinct is to lash out when someone lashes out at us or doesn't meet our kindness with their kindness. Sometimes the hidden picture is not for us to know, but we can always leave a situation better than we found it. I am not saying it is easy in fact I don't think it is possible without God taking over and that takes discipline. We must stop and ask God to intervene.

We are living in a time where many are fearful, in fact, downright terrified. We are facing an unknown and for many people, that is asking them to do what they feel is impossible, Trusting God. Let's face it that is a VERY difficult task no matter your relationship with God. But what if you are in a good place today, a place where you are feeling confident in your life? Can't you share that with others? Because tomorrow you may be the one needing to be reassured. I know my emotions have been a roller coaster for the past 8 months! 

This experience reminded me of a saying: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me! THAT IS A BIG FAT LIE!!! I know because I have spent a good portion of my adult life allowing words to destroy me. My experience has allowed me to be mindful of my words. Do I fail? Yes, too often, but I pray for God's words and His wisdom. Today was a reminder to be kinder. To be more understanding. To give love even if I don't receive it. To leave the place better than I found it. Will I always see the immediate response? No! Sometimes I will never know how my response affected a person, but that is not for me to know. God is working through us if we only allow Him to. Can I hope that my positive words can help a person having a bad day have a better day? You bet! It may even mean the customer behind me gets a smile or cheerful greeting. It is called a ripple effect.

Can I challenge you to look around you today, tomorrow, this week, this month, or anytime you are given a chance to give love and give it abundantly? Ask God to work through you. We can't do it by ourselves, but our words have the power to change lives!

Proverbs 16:24 NIV
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

With Great Love,

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