I asked my daughter Ashley if I could share this story from our week, and she responded, "Yes, I believe the Lord puts situations in our life to learn from.” So we share this story with you...
Ashley, Sydney, and I were shopping in Castle Rock this week when found a cute boutique and ventured in. We were trying on several summer outfits when Ashley emerged from the dressing room.
“You have one arm!” the grown saleswoman shouted as if Ashley didn’t know.
Seeing something unexpected, someone different than herself, the woman lost all common sense and blurted out a hurtful comment. It was unexpected and unwanted to the three of us and became a source of embarrassment for the woman. Upon realizing the damage done, she tried to compliment Ashley and then out of embarrassment, walked away. Honestly, we were so shocked that we quietly just looked at each other.
This made me reflect on my words. How do I respond to someone who looks different than me? I asked Ashley, how do you want people to respond to you? I thought her answer was significant, wise and helpful enough to share with you. Perhaps it’s food for thought.
"I’d rather people smile than stare," Ashley said. "I’d rather someone ask if I’d like to share my story than say something unguarded. I’m not a victim or needing extra attention. I’m just me. The best response is always out of love.” That’s it! Speak out of love.
Words once said are impossible to retract. That’s why the Bible talks about the power of our tongue and the importance of having self-control and patience.
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing ."
Think of the power of our words to lift up a discouraged friend who is troubled or burdened. Then think too how our words can tear down one’s spirit. Our tongue has great power to affirm but also destroy.
"The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
Later, the woman and I had the opportunity to speak before we left the store. She said, "I couldn’t take back what I said, and I was so embarrassed. This is not the first time I’ve spoken recklessly without thinking.” I asked the Lord to give me the right words to share with her out of love, not frustration. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to make it right for someone else. I hope I did that well.
All of us learned a lesson that day about the power of our words. And if each of us become more intentional about our words, spoken in love, then this situation was a victory! May we all make good use of opportunities to speak life to one another, to ignite joy in other’s lives.