Today is Day 1 of our "Zip It: The Keeping it Shut 40 Day Challenge" by Karen Ehman. We have a Facebook group if you would like to join us. There are almost 3,000 participants!
The very first day is about realizing the power of our words. The words Karen used that stuck with my the most were, "words are powerful, and they have consequences."
This. So much of this.
Like everyone else, I've had conversations that have stuck with me over the years, for better or worse. I remember quite clearly an awful conversation I had in high school with a girl I didn't know very well at the time. She was quiet, but always kind. Something was said to me, and I reacted. And I said some words that still make me cringe.
I had the opportunity to see this girl, well, lady now, since this was over 15 years ago. My daughter was having emergency surgery, and wouldn't you know it, one of her nurses was this very woman.
While I had never forgotten how awful I had been, I had no idea if she still thought of me, or how awful those words were. I got my answer to that when she came into the room. One look at me, and I knew that she remembered that day as clearly as I did.
Now I was sitting by my daughter's bedside with my husband, waiting for the surgeon, and also thinking about how I needed to make things right.
She was quite nice to us, making small talk to help distract us from worrying, and answering all of our questions about what we would be expecting as they got our daughter ready. She was really professional, never letting on that her last experience with me was not very cordial.
My husband and I sat with our daughter, laughing about the things she was saying after they started the anaesthetic, finding her really funny and encouraging her silliness.
I don't know if any of you have ever apologized for something that felt like an entire lifetime ago, but I can tell you that the words don't come easily.
As I sat there waiting for our daughter to be brought back out, I sheepishly told my husband that I had said some unkind words to this woman back in high school and I needed to apologize. I had been an insecure and foolish young girl with a wisecracking mouth and it was coming back to bite me in the rear.
After our sweet little girl was brought out, I asked the nurse if I could have a minute to just talk to her. I think we were both so nervous at this point because it was so awkward. I apologized for my words back then, and told her that she didn't deserve them. I was so sorry that something I had said in the spur of the moment would have such long-lasting effect, especially when she had been nothing but kind to me. She thanked me for actually apologizing as not very many people would do that so many years later. She told me the things that had happened in her life after school, and then asked about me. I wouldn't say we parted friends, but at least now when I see her, I can genuinely smile, and I hope she can too.
I learned two things that day with regards to my words.
They can last in both the speaker's mind and the recipients, but you can always apologize. It is never too late to make things right.
And that I would so much rather speak words that would build someone up, rather than tear them down and end up having to eat them later. Crow has never tasted good.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help us to guard our words. Let us run them through your grace and love before they come flying out of our lips. When we are poised to react to a situation, soften our hearts and our minds so that we don't say something that we will regret in the years to come. Thank you for all the beautiful souls that we have the chance to impact every day. In your name. Amen.