But by mid-afternoon that day, the rose-colored glasses I try to whip out in times like these (not to be in denial, just to make sure I see things through a positive perspective) were no where to be found and due to a combination of having a lot on my mind, being weary, and fighting discouragement, I had to do something. And when push comes to shove, what's a girl to do? Go to Starbucks, that's what! Because, just as Mr. Hugh Grant's friend tells him in Notting Hill: "Shall I go get a cappuccino? Ease the pain" - a little coffee (or tea!) always helps one's state of mind.
Walking in to the coffee shop, I got up to the counter and ordered my favorite iced tea. And as I fumbled haphazardly through my purse, brushing back a stray strand of unruly hair from my face and sighing, the girl behind the counter who took my order smiled kindly at me. And then she said, "You always look so cute! You just have the prettiest hair and I love your style. I always think you are so pretty when you come in here." I was frozen as I handed her the $3 and .55 cents. Tears threatened to flow, and all I could do was quietly stand there and say, "Thank you...thanks girl."
It was just short sentence. A few seconds of conversation. I quick exchange. But you know what? It changed my entire day. I'm not just saying that, either. I walked outta there feeling like a new woman (and it wasn't because of the tea, although that has been known to happen.) Uplifted and encouraged - just because someone took the time to speak a few kind words to me. That sweet girl at Starbucks could have just said "Thanks, have a great day" or taken the money and said nothing at all. But she didn't. She took the time to say something nice to a complete stranger (well, actually not a complete stranger....does it mean you're addicted when your local Starbucks people recognize you??) and she changed my day.
And it got me thinking, the rest of the week, about the power of words. The sheer power one human being has over another just by speaking words. It's incredible, really. And as I thought about it, I began to think of moments and times in my life when words were spoken to me - words I will never, ever forget. Words are powerful. Words are life-giving, like I experienced at Starbucks. But words can also hurt and sting, words can stay with you for a lifetime. And they can even shape and define the very people we become. When spoken, words cannot be taken back. If hurtful, they can be forgiven. But usually, they are never forgotten. I began to think about words in my life - defining moments when words were spoken that I will never forget.
I'll never forget the words my precious dad told me when took me aside on my 16th birthday and said I was beautiful and that God's plans for my life were really big.
I'll never forget the words my great-grandma wrote to me in a letter a few years ago before she died, words of love.
I'll never forget one night in college, when an immature, selfish boy said something that hurt me - and one of my best girl friends hugged me as I cried and spoke sweet, encouraging words.
I'll never forget something hurtful someone said to me just last year - it seared my heart and cut deep.
Words have power. Growing up, my mom always reminded us - "God spoke the world into existence, just using words alone. Words have meaning."
I know I've been the one who's hurt others at times. I know I've hurt others by careless words. And I wish I could take them back. Realizing the power of words as I get older and have moments when words uplift like that sweet girl's did at Starbucks, I am drive to be more careful - more thoughtful about my words. I want to use the power my words have to give life, hope, love, and encouragement to the people I meet.
So, at the end of last week - I found myself on the other side of the "Starbucks situation." And I had a choice to make - a choice to hold my words of encouragement in or use them to build someone else up. At a little tiny See's Candies shop in by the sea in Los Angeles... I stood at the counter across from a weary woman who wrapped up chocolates and responded to questions of annoyed customers. As she numbly rang up our order, I took the opportunity - I knew it was there - because I knew that look on her face. The same look I wore just days before as I stood at a different counter. I seized the moment, "You have just the prettiest smile," I said - "And I love your headband." She lit up. And she smiled so wide, she laughed. Her whole demeanor changed, the next minute I spent across from her she smiled and said, "Thank you...thank you." And it reminded me of someone else I know....just days before.
That, my dears, is what passing it forward looks like - not only did my encourager earlier in the week speak life to me, but the very act of encouraging me inspired me to lift up someone else!
Words bring life or death. They can uplift or drag down. And they live long past the moment they are spoken - they live forever in the mind and heart of the one spoken to...and they can even inspire one to do good.
Let's use our words in a purposeful way this week - to uplift, bring life, encourage, and inspire. You never know where a little word will take somebody. It could be the one they remember the rest of their life. And that, sweet friend - means something.