Like a small rudder steers a large ship

My Bible study this week (we’re working our way thru James) was on James 3:1-12. I’ll admit, I had a rough week and (GASP!) didn’t read the study book prior to our group meeting last night. But it’s amazing how, even when we don’t take time for Him, God’s got our back.

Yesterday, I was at a funeral – of a woman who died too suddenly and much too young. As I listened to the way people talked about her, the nice things that were said, the praises of her character, and had all wonderful memories of her running thru my own mind, I realized something…we don’t take the time we should to say those things to each other when we’re still around. Why is it we only make the effort once someone is dead? Encouragement and edification seem to be lost in the hussle bussle  of the world around us. We often think kind things of others, but how frequently do we actually tell them?

Then at Bible study, we read scripture focusing on the power of the tongue – how such a small thing can cause so much damage or edification. We talked about ways we can encourage each other thru our words and ways an untamed tongue can unleash great devastation in others lives. I mean really – how much more perfect a passage of the Word can you get for the feelings I’d been mulling over since the funeral earlier that day?

Too often, we see the bad. In ourselves and in others. It’s so much easier to pick out the qualities that are a little “off” in a person than to focus on the good. It takes more energy to look for the positives in friends and family, let alone to verbalize those praises. Last night’s study made me very aware of how I speak to those around me, and how I’m affected by things said to me. Then this morning, I got a perfect example – from someone who has no idea she was doing God’s work.

I’ve been feeling just crappy all week. Hormones, grief, frustration – whatever the reason, I’ve just had a lousy week. This morning, I absolutely, unequivocally did NOT want to go to the gym. For starters, the stupid woodpecker (another story – for another blog) woke me up at 5 minutes to 7. After chasing the woodpecker off my roof twice – running thru the freezing cold and snow to do so, I looked in the mirror and saw the devastation of yesterday’s crying. Super. I love when my eyes are so puffy I can hardly see out them. Madison said “I’m grumpy” shortly after waking up, and was acting every inch of it. Anyway, I just was feeling sorry for myself and would have much rather stayed home snuggling my kids. But I made myself go. I was sure (somehow) it would make me feel better.

As I walked into the foyer of the Y, the two front desk ladies greeted Madison with their usual smiles and exclamations of how beautiful her hair is. Then just as we started walking away, one of them (I don’t even know her name) said to me “You know, you look nothing like the picture that comes up in our system when you scan your card.” She then proceeded to spend the next few minutes making my entire week. She pulled up my picture in the system for the other lady to see and they both discussed how much weight I’ve lost and how good my hair looks currently compared to the super short spiked “do” I previously had, they even asked if I’d been pregnant when the previous photo was taken (I wasn’t). Then the sweet angel of the Lord smiled at me and said “I mean, you’re just an absolutely beautiful woman – it’s an amazing testament to how hard you must have worked to look how you do now. Good for you!”.

The cynic in me wanted to tell them I still had 30 pounds to lose. That my thighs are like big tree trunks and my baby belly is still very much intact. But their obviously sincere praise at the moment I needed it made an amazing impact on me – and I was able to just smile and say “Thank you guys so much”. As I floated thru my workout, it hit me how much such a simple encounter had changed my entire outlook. And the compliments I received were totally superficial! How much more would it have meant if the comments had been about something of more value? Compassion. Caring. Mercy. Grace. Love. There are people in my life who frequently impress me with their God-like attributes. How often have I had the opportunity to impact their lives in a similar manner, and let it pass by? I’m sure there are days my mom doesn’t feel like being caring to others – how much would it mean to her if, on such a day, I told her how amazing she is and what a blessing her constant compassion and concern is? Or if I told my sister Amy how proud I am of her dedication to school, that she inspires me every single day. We have so much power in the words we use – although I’ve heard “life and death are in the power of the tongue” since I was very young, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more relevant example than the past couple days. I don’t want to wait until those I love can’t hear my praises anymore. I don’t want to regret not telling them every chance I get how much they impact my life. And, like a small rudder steers a large ship, so my tongue is the starting place – I’m going to start using it to steer my life and others in a much better direction.

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