Word Girl

Thanksgiving afternoon, my head swiveled back and forth as I tried to follow the animated conversation between my brother and cousins—whose involvement in each others’ lives really surprised me (they were unusually “thick” with each other). When I realized their familiarity stemmed not from personal visits and phone conversations, but from being “friends” on Facebook, I began to accept the benefits of joining the heretofore hated social networking site. Friends had been good-naturedly harassing me for months to register, but none of their reasons seemed good enough. The potential for family connections lifted the “pro” column over the “cons,” and the next day I joined.

Of course the first three comments I received on my “wall” were variations on “Haha! You finally caved!” Such friends have I. The friend who found me early this week made up for them, however. A boy I played T-ball with, when we were six and seven years old, recognized my name. We re-introduced ourselves, then chatted one day earlier this week, catching up on the last 30 years (that phrase alone boggles my mind!). We laughed together about our T-ball experiences. I remember being a ball-hog, playing everyone’s position at the same time because, as my mother once said I said, “The others don’t know how!” I was a little competitive, even then. My old friend remembered me much more kindly, as an exceptional young athlete. Even now, he told me, when he sees a young girl athlete excelling, he is reminded of his old pal Kelley.

Wow. I had no idea I’d ever made such an impression on anyone, let alone one that lasted for so long. His compliment, despite being a reference to long-gone talents, had me marveling for hours, through the next day. It felt good to be remembered for something positive

Later that night, the day after the T-ball conversation, I received yet another unexpected compliment. A new acquaintance, asking me to bring an item to a party, took a moment to thank me for the cheerful, positive attitude I’d (apparently) had in a previous conversation with her. Really? What positive reinforcement I’ve been receiving lately! I spent the next few hours with both conversations running through the back of my mind.

The next morning I began laughing at myself. Sure, it’s nice to have nice things said about you. But I’m a fairly secure person who doesn’t need constant cheering to keep going. Why had these two particular compliments stuck?

Two things come to mind. First, I was struck by the fact that both individuals took the time, made the effort, to tell me their impressions. They could have thought nice things and gone on with life, but they communicated how I’d affected them. Their words transferred the blessing back to me.

Second, I realized that I am, like many others, a “word girl.” It’s one of my love languages. I can go for days on someone’s encouraging note or spoken compliment. I can read about God’s love for me in Ephesians 1 and be strengthened for my daily task.

How often do I return the favor? Do I encourage others verbally? Do I share with them the kind thoughts I have about them? Do I transfer the blessing back?

Do you?

Proverbs 25:11 "Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word skillfully spoken."

1 Thess. 4:18 "Therefore encourage one another with these words."

1 Thess. 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing."

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