A Lesson in Kindness
I want to share this, not for pity purposes, but as an eye-opening lesson to those who may not think in these terms. I hope you will take it in such spirit. It's not meant to condemn, but to encourage you to think about what you say and how you say it affects others.
This morning, I was blindsided. I was with a group of folks with whom I should have felt safe and accepted. But just a few words changed that. I mentioned my love of theatre, and someone responded, "Well, we're learning who we should stay away from."
Oh, yes, it was a joke. I realize that. I even laughed it off...at first. But then, those feelings began to fester. Deep, dark feelings that linger just below the thin surface of my fragile self-esteem.
I grew up being the joke of many. I'm a bigger girl and always have been. I'm not comfortable in my own skin, and somehow people pick up on that.
One moment in time is forever cemented in my brain. In one of my fifth grade classes, we were going around our circle, telling about the funniest thing we'd ever seen. A boy across the way said, "Ashley's face."
I can clearly see my best friend's mouth--as she was sitting next to me--opened wide with laughter. I hid my tears behind my own laughter. The whole class joined in, and I sat there, wanting to die.
So this little joke this morning brought that back. Those tears behind the smile as I tried to pass it off as a joke. I'm 40 years old. I should be over this kind of hurt.
But I'm not.
Words hurt. Words can so easily tear us down. Perhaps that's why I write. I put words together in story form to give people some hope. To affirm who they are, their struggles, and their victories. While my stories may have dark moments, I want the overall message to point back to something more important.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us, "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." I've used the Message version, because it's my favorite right now. A few verses later, he says, "Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect."
May I implore you to think about your words today? That joke you throw out as a defense mechanism...that teasing quip you share to make others think you're funny or cool...those words just might be swords or arrows to the receiver. He may be hiding a past laden with hurt. She may be facing a situation that strips her of any confidence. He may be buried under years of self-torment. And your words just added to it. Just chucked another coal on the fire. Just broke what might have been glued back together.
Be kind. Build someone up instead of tearing them down. Especially when they open up to share a little piece of themselves or reveal who they truly are. Embrace each other with love.
This world would be a much better, brighter place...
5/25/2014 12:01:19 pm
I love what you wrote, keep shining light and sharing that amazing Ashley energy, you are perfectly wonderful just the way you are! Keep using that amazing talent and ability for accomplishment for good, it adds sparkle to the world and only you can do it in that special way God made you shine. Great post!
5/25/2014 01:38:36 pm
I don't think we have actually met, even though we are related by marriage, but I sure do like you.
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Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3