My birthday was this past Friday.
It often feels uncomfortable when anyone makes a fuss over my birthday. On the flip side, I love making a big to-do about others’ special day.
I received a boatload of good tidings on Facebook and emails that were encouraging. A reminder that I’m fortunate to have outstanding relationships with so many amazing people. I was with many of those folks this weekend. We had a women’s retreat with some of the finest gals I’ve ever known.
I was being internally whiney.
Two things happened, however, that blew me away.
My team got together and gave me the gift of skydiving. Jumping out of an airplane has been on my bucket list for a long while. It was the gift of kindness but also of being heard. They know me.
Arriving home after the retreat, I walked into a dining area full of balloons. They covered the ceiling like bouncy colorful clouds filling the sky.
Awed silence doesn’t happen often with me.
I was speechless.
As I’ve been reading what each little note says, I’m struck by what they see in me. Things I don’t necessarily see in myself. Things that are kinder, more gracious, than I’d have said about me. Words of love and affirmation that humble me to my core.
I’ve cried thinking about these things. I want to be all they say they see in me, but I doubt the truthfulness of such generous words.
Yet I’m so refreshed, revitalized by what was said. I have these written down so I can go back and read them. Consider them. Allow them to rebound in my heart and become more of my living reality.
Words are powerful. They can bring healing and hope, encouragement and celebration. Or they can weaken and destroy. Bring guilt and shame.
Life giving or life shattering.
Jesus taught consistently that we’re to use our words to build up others. To benefit others with what we say rather slandering them. Speak life-giving truth rather than false flattery so others may grow in who they can be.
I need encouragement. It moves me to keep going. Try harder. Push through fear.
It’s easier to make hurtful comments without thinking. Be part of a joke at someone else’s expense. Use impersonal social media to communicate what needs to be said in person so others can see my heart. Hear my explanations. Know my intent.
Words are a gift we can give one another. Or they’re dirty bombs that can wreak havoc in the lives of those we may not agree with in the moment.
Celebrating others with helpful, encouraging words is a gift I can–should–give others.
That’s worth a bouquet of balloons any day.