After the audition, my daughter was floating. Her face, shining with excitement, was split by the wide, toothy smile she couldn’t seem to control. As we made our way to the car, she relayed the experience, word for word.
“The director told me they don’t have a part for me in this one, but she said she loves my voice!” I murmured my agreement as she gushed on. “I started reading and she said, ‘Wow! I don’t know what it is about your voice, but it’s really cool!’ And then she told me I have a wise look, and that she can see me in her next film. She told me that if I’m not writing and directing my own stuff yet, that I need to start.”
On and on she went, her feet barely touching the ground on our trek to the car. She was literally bouncing in her enthusiasm. I wondered at it. After all, the director clearly said she couldn’t use her in this production and she had only affirmed words I had spoken a thousand times to my daughter. So why did this make such an impact?
I thought back to my own childhood and one memory immediately popped to the surface. It was fifth grade and our beloved teacher was moving away halfway through the school year. As she introduced the new teacher to our class, she went down the rows of children, one by one, and told the new teacher something nice about each child.
It was powerful. Her compliments were sincere, tailored to each of us, making them meaningful and uplifting. When my turn came, she told the new teacher I was very creative and that I wrote wonderful stories. I recall the warmth I felt, the desire to make good on her words. By golly, I would be a writer! Funny how I remember that day clearly when most of my childhood memories are fuzzy and indistinct.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Proverbs 16:24, NIV
As mamas, we give words of affirmation to our children. This is good and right, but sometimes it is the words of someone unrelated, someone with no vested interest in our response, who can have the most impact. After all, when we love someone we automatically think they’re great, right? Our kids know this, and so our words sometimes carry less weight. And this applies to us adults too, doesn’t it? When your husband or best friend compliments you, does it carry as much credibility as the same compliment from a stranger? Hmmm.
My daughter’s excitement over the director’s affirmation reminded me that I too have the power to speak life into the heart of others. So do you. Each and every day. And our heart-felt and gracious words may have even more impact on those outside our immediate influence. Let us practice this more often, shall we?
Lord, open my eyes to those around me. May I see others as you see them. Give me opportunities to speak pleasant words, words that lift the spirits, that breathe hope and life into the hearer. May we, your children, be characterized by our sincere appreciation of each others’ gifts and talents. Let our words be a healing balm in this fallen world. Amen.