There are moments in time, where I look back on my life, and see how certain conversations, moments, and things that were said, forever shaped who I was and who I wanted to be.
I remember a moment in high school. I was a special education aid, and a student came into class really upset. He said some other kids were teasing him about being, “retarded.” He looked at me and said, “I know I have a mental problem…but…but… I’m not retarded!”
I have never forgotten it. In that moment, I saw that he still hurt. He still understood “mean.” I decided to always stick up for those who were weaker than I was. For people can’t always fight for themselves.
There was that other time when I was a teen and I was at evening church. A bunch of kids were talking and goofing off. A lady got really upset because she couldn’t see or hear the film being shown. I felt badly for her, as I had been trying to watch too. So after the service, I went up to her and nervously told her I was sorry for their actions. She asked my name and I gave it.
I was walking out of the main sanctuary with my parents, when she caught up to us. She proceeded to tell my parents what had happened, and told them that they had raised an amazing young lady to be able to come up to her and apologize like that. I had been scared to be punished for the actions of others – but instead, I was humbled as I was verbally acknowledged and rewarded for mature, honest, and kind behavior.
That moment, whether I knew it or not, probably drilled home in me, more than anything, the desire I felt in wanting to be honest and respectful to others.
There are many moments like those two examples. I’m sure there are many moments in your life, as well. Conversations and words uttered, that didn’t just exist in the moment. They lived on in your heart and soul, long after the event; forever shaping who you chose to be.
I so pray they were good ones. But even if unkind words are uttered – it’s always still our choice to prove someone wrong. To CHOOSE to be better, wiser, and more than they said we were.
The cycle lives on. As we grow up, we utter words and have conversations with those younger than us. Our kids, our nieces and nephews; our grandkids. And we never know what conversations and words live on long after we’ve said them.
Careless words can last. Encouraging words can influence for years.
I KNOW I’ve made mistakes in the things I’ve said at times. I can only pray that the effort I’ve made to be intentional, generous, loving, and forgiving, outweighs those thoughtless and unfortunate “other” moments I’ve played in someone’s life.
I can only hope that any negative words uttered from my lips – are FAR fewer than the positive, loving ones - so that they don’t stick with someone’s heart long after they were said.
I pray that something I say is life-giving to someone else. And I pray, that it will help shape their view of life and of themselves, in a positive way. For words are never JUST words.
They are moments in time that shape a soul forever. And so many souls are waiting to be molded and shaped.
What will our legacy on another human life be? What impact will our words have made?
Time will tell. One way, or another.