Monday, July 11, 2016

Who Do You Need to Thank?

This last week I was thinking about a friend I hadn't seen in several years. I thought about her and wondered how she was doing. I thought about how she had a big impact on my life. We lived together in college for only a year, but the impact she had on me is one that will last a lifetime. She taught me to really see other people, not the outside, but the person underneath. Her friendship even impacted how I raise my children.

After sitting and thinking for awhile I realized something. I had never actually told her any of this. I have never shared the impact she had on me 16 years later. Such a positive change occurred in my life because of her, and I had kept that to myself.

I sat down and thanked God for her. I thanked him for using her to help me see people more through his eyes. And then I told her.

I emailed her and told her what her friendship meant to me and the tremendous impact she had on my life. I told her how my children whom she's never been able to meet have been impacted by her and they don't even know it. I laid out exactly what she meant to me and I thanked her.

Later I sat and thought about others who have made positive impacts on my life. Some I have told, some I have not. Somethings are small, some are huge. They all matter.

There is so much darkness in the world. I want to use my words better. I want God to use my words for his good. To take the positive impacts people make on me and to share them. To share them with others and to thank those responsible.

Recently I was in the checkout line at Walmart. The young mother in front of me had a few incorrect items for her WIC purchase. I could tell she was nervous and embarrassed to be holding up the line. However, the cashier was about to make all the difference in her day. The cashier was very kind and told her exactly which few items to go back and grab so she would have the correct brands.

The cashier's kindness made me happy. You know why? I have been in that young mother's shoes. I have been in line to check out with 2 or 3 customers behind me and had one or two wrong items. Only the cashier was less than friendly about it. She made sure all behind me in line knew my WIC purchase would be holding them all up. The eye rolls, the heavy sighs, the whispers, and the hateful tone. I've experienced those and have wanted to just run out of the store to hide and never to return.

This cashier was so gentle and kind with this young mother. As the young mom went to retrieve the correct items I looked at the cashier and said, "I just want to thank-you. I've been in her shoes and having a person like you be so kind, I know that means the world to her. Thank-you, thank-you for being so nice."

I could've kept that to myself. I didn't have to tell her. But I wanted her to know. I wanted her to see I noticed her kindness. I wanted her to know it meant something. Maybe my words gave her the encouragement she needed for the day as well.

We've got a lot of words out there. Let's use them for good. Words are powerful.

Christians, I'm going to be tougher on you for a minute. We are simply too haphazard with our words. We throw them around as if a little insult or a snide comment doesn't carry the weight that they actually does. We are not guarded with our words as we should be. If we are angry or have a bad experience we sprint to social media or some other outlet to vent. This is not pleasing to the God we claim to serve.

The book of Proverbs alone is filled with verses about using our words wisely and not for destruction. The book of James devotes most of chapter three to taming the tongue. Read them and let them soak in.

We should be encouraging one another. Using our words to bring healing, love, and light.

Your words will most likely be what you are remembered for one day when you leave this earth. Are you okay with that? Do you want to be remembered for the positive impact your words had on people or for how long your Facebook rants and complaints were?

Today, instead of browsing social media waiting for the next thing to debate hatefully, think instead of someone who has made a positive difference in your life and tell them.

That teacher that sparked your love for writing, tell her.

That neighbor that brought you dinner when you weren't feeling well, thank them.

That lady you know that makes every kid feel noticed and loved, tell her how beautiful it is.

The elderly man that always takes the time to stop and ask you how you are doing, give him a card expressing how much he brightens your day.

That coach that pushed and encouraged you to make you better because he knew you needed it, write him and tell him you are better today because of his words.

That person that spoke kind words and noticed you when no one else did, thank them.

There are so many people making positive impacts on us. Use your words to thank them. We need to pass it on. You never know when those positive words of gratitude will make all the difference to someone. They may feel unnoticed and your words might be the positive impact they need that day.

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. -Proverbs 12:18