Last August my family and I spent a week hanging with friends in Baltimore, and then took a few days to tour DC. We had a great time visiting our nation’s capital and touring so many great (and free!) museums. If you haven’t ever taken a vacation in DC, be sure to put it on the calendar for the family, it will be worth it!
One night we left our hotel to pick up some late-night snacks for everyone. We found a grocery store about a mile from where we were staying and shopped the aisles looking for each family member’s favorite treat. After everyone was satisfied with their choices, we headed to the check out and found the only register open at that hour.
While our items were being scanned, Celina looked up at the African American lady who was our checker, and without any kind of prompting said, “Wow, I love your hair!” The lady stopped, looked over at CJ and the biggest smile came across her face. She said, “Why thank you honey, you are so sweet!”
Celina had never seen hair extensions like the ones this lady was wearing, and she was enamored by them. The grocer asked Celina if she wanted to touch them to which CJ enthusiastically responded with a “Yes.” The lady talked to our daughter for several minutes about hair, beauty and how much her words meant to her that night. As we walked out of the grocery store, the lady and her fellow employee (a woman who bagged our groceries) were talking, smiling, laughing and had a totally different outlook on life.
All because a ten year old girl said, “Wow, I love your hair!”
Just as a careless word can destroy a person, a compliment is a powerful tool when wielded by expert lips. But like any professional in any trade, you become an expert by practicing with the tools of the trade. Are you practicing with your words? I love Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:29: “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.”
My little girl showed me an incredible example of helpful speech that builds up others, so that even a second teller who was just “listening” to our conversation was encouraged by what she said. Such a little compliment changed the outcome of the night for two grocery store employees and who knows how far that one blessing traveled. I’m sure the one lady told her daughters at home, about the kind words of a little Mexican girl at her store, at 8:30pm that night. I feel certain the two tellers continued to talk about CJ after we left, it really had that much impact.
What are you doing with your words? Who is being blessed by your speech? Are you becoming a professional compliment giver and word encourager? Living the Overboard Life requires each of us to use our words according to God’s standards for speech, and the only way to get better is to practice daily. Who can you encourage and compliment today?
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!