My youngest daughter got a new hat and gloves the other day. She picked them out herself. They are bright pink, and the hat has a cute, little brim on the front of it. She looks adorable, and the color is striking with her black coat.
She wore them to school for the first time on Monday, and some kid decided to make fun of them because they were pink. Personally, I couldn't figure out the insult in making fun of a girl for wearing pink, but it hurt my daughter's feelings. She came home in tears.
Then, two things happened. We went to hockey practice that night, walked into the locker room and the first thing out of our goalie's mouth was "I like your hat." I could have hugged the kid. He had no idea that kids had teased my daughter about her hat. It lifted her spirits and made the day better.
When she came home from school on Tuesday, I asked if anyone had made fun of her hat. She said one little boy did, but it was a joke. This little boy had taken pink gloves from his sister and was hiding his hands in his pockets. He asked Carolyn why she was wearing a pink hat. Then pulled out his pink-clad hands and said "because I think you took my hat."
Both these little boys lifted my daughter's spirits and counteracted the mean words of another child. Our goalie did it without knowing she had been hurt. The other little boy went out of his way to make her feel better.
These boys illustrated the point that our words and actions toward others matter. Proverbs 12:18 says "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." One recklessly spoken word can do more damage than we know, but one uplifting and kind word can heal hurts we may not even know exist.
The Christmas season is a time when old hurts run close to the surface. Wounds we may not even know about, losses we've never shared and stress we can't see can all cause the people we come into contact with every day to be hurting without us knowing it.
Be cautious with your words all the time, but especially during this season. Look for opportunities to say an encouraging word to others. You never know what that person is going through. Your words might be the difference in their day.
Encourage your kids to offer kind words to their friends. Talk with them about looking for opportunities to lift others up. If you see a child who is upset, encourage your kids to find out what's wrong and offer that child encouragement.
You never know when your words will make a difference. You never know when what you say will be the balm that heals the wounds caused by the piercing words of others. You just never know.