Being over 50, my ears have heard many words. Some words I wish I could recall. Some words I would like to forget. But there are three things people once said to me that I believe I will remember forever.
1. “You will always have beauty in your life.”
I took biology my sophomore year at Edina High School. Mr. Ehlert was my teacher: a quirky older man who sported bow ties, tweed jackets, and a grizzled beard. He would lecture every day, and our task was to take attentive notes in our all-important notebooks. Our grade depended heavily on these notebooks, which we offered for grading every few weeks.
It was — and is still — my habit to doodle in notebooks, so mine was filled alternately with words, pictures and word-pictures. I might have written out the process of metamorphosis in words, with arrows, or doodled a whimsical caterpillar~butterfly combo as my pencil flew across the pages.
We handed in our notebooks one Friday and got them back the next week. In my notebook, he made comments and asked occasional questions. He did not scowl at my doodling — instead, he approvingly referred to my artsy note- taking when he wrote:
“You will always have beauty in your life.”
I have never forgotten that little comment — the memory of it has grown over the years and made me feel richer.
2. “You smell like Jesus, Lisa.”
I remember the day I walked to my p.o. box at college, opened it and found a simple note, that began with a Bible passage:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
You smell like Jesus, Lisa!
I looked around the mailroom. Who had sent me this encouraging, anonymous message? Who thinks I *smell* like Jesus?!
Looking back, this period of my life was sometimes more selfish and stinky than spiritually fragrant! Although the message could have been the result of someone’s Bible class assignment, or sent in bulk to several people, my spirit soared and I have pondered over and cherished this verse ever since. It’s also good to remember that if we ever eke out a Jesus fragrance, it is only because we have His power to do it. The rest of the verse says: “And who is adequate for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:16.
3. “You never complain!”
Betsy was a beautiful southern lady, twenty years my senior. She hosted a small group at her home, simply to build God-focused encouragement into the lives of women.
I remember the time she looked me in the eye and told me:
“Ly-suh…I never hear you complain! You never complain, do you?”
Betsy didn’t live with me, and my husband certainly could have told her the real truth, but as I reflect on her words, I realize that the moment she said that, she pronounced upon me something to live up to; something like a prophecy:
I am someone who doesn’t complain. I will be someone who doesn’t complain.
Her words have diffused power over the years, and have caused me to hold my tongue or think of my blessings instead of my lack. I only hope that I will be a “Betsy” to others who need one throughout their journey.
The value of looking back at these three comments is to cause me to be inspired to do the same for others. Our words are powerful. These three people probably had no idea of the impact of their short messages. They didn’t preach a sermon at me, or lecture, or use fancy words; but the effort they took to speak something kind ended up being as valuable to me as gold.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.Proverbs 16:24