Running on the treadmill earlier this week, searching as usual for anything to think about other than the sweat making its steady stream down my back, I remembered a sunny day many years ago when I had just finished an outdoor run in the park at my hometown.
“You have really good form,” an unfamiliar voice wafted past the pounding in my ears to me.
I looked up to see a younger girl in perfect shape. She had no reason to compliment the thirty-something bookworm who had just jogged around the track at a speed many could walk. Still, she took the time to let me know I was doing something right.
I thanked her roundly and headed back to my car to drive home, my back a little straighter, my heart filled with the warmth of human kindness. I was the kid whose third-grade teacher gave her a ball and jacks to work on her eye-hand coordination. When others were perfecting dodge-ball moves, I was the one with her nose in a book, watching enviously from the sidelines. I did not get compliments on anything athletic. Ever.
But, ever since that day, I have always felt that my jogging form is good, worthy of compliments. I have some foundation for this confidence besides one stranger’s kind words. My husband actually has taught me the running form the young lady admired that day on the track. Still, her words, which took only a moment of her time, have stuck with me through the years. Laboring on the treadmill in the gym, I know I am not the fastest person in the room, but I also know I pump my legs like a real runner, all because a stranger decided to compliment me on a windy, West Texas day.
Words really are just that powerful. They can build up or destroy with minimum effort on the speaker’s part. No wonder the Bible warns us: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt. 12:36).
Knowing the power of words is one reason I try to speak my compliments to strangers instead of just thinking them in my head. I admire a scarf or jewelry, I note the pretty eyes or hairstyle, I praise the young boy who holds open the door. So far, no one has rebuffed me for saying something nice to them. It’s literally one of the smallest things I can do to spread the love Jesus feels for all of us.
Kind words serve me in other ways. When I spend my time thinking about kind words, I put myself in a place of love and thankfulness that pushes out anger and fear and ultimately draws me closer to God. When I am in His presence, I find it even easier to discover kind things to say. It is a cycle of love that we should all want to be caught up in.
In an old song, Kitty Kallen croons,
Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot
When it comes to living each day as Christ-like, embracing the idea that little things mean a lot can go a long way toward spreading the love of Jesus. In fact, if we concentrate on the little things, God promises He will do the heavy lifting:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Never underestimate what God can do with your kind words. His mercy is no little thing, but the little things are exactly what He calls on us to strive for, keeping each day’s worries unto itself, leaving the bigger picture to our awesome, heavenly Father.
You are special, and you are loved. What kind words have made a big difference in your life? Think about God’s blessings in your life and be inspired to go forth and be kind.