The Effects of Our Words

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(With his permission, I would like to share with you something that Ryan Risher, a friend of mine, recently shared.  It made me think seriously about the way I speak with people, even those I may see and interact with every day.  I pray that it will have the same impact on you.)

It was beautiful outside today on the way to work, and it had me thinking.  I watched all the people I drove by and looked at their faces.  Some people looked happy.  I saw one lady singing at the top of her lungs.  Others looked so busy it was as if their mind wasn’t even there.  I am only one person and probably a stranger, but my action towards one of them could possibly affect their entire day.

It brought back a painful memory.  End of summer, 1999.  Time to go back to school.  Going into the 8th grade was exciting and terrifying at the same time.  I hit my giant growth spurt over the summer.  I now was almost 6 feet tall, my summer tan was still in full effect, and I had all new clothes.  This was all very important at the time because I had just discovered something new in the world.  That is that girls no longer have cooties.  There was this girl I had a huge crush on, and we would always talk between classes and every night for hours after school.  She may have liked me, too, but I had no clue how to ask a girl out, so we only remained friends and nothing more.  Fast forward three years down the road, and we completely lost touch.  We went to different clicks and different groups of friends through high school.  I was working my first job as a busboy at Chili’s, and she started working as a hostess.  It was the end of a long Friday night shift, and the restaurant was closing up.  I was standing outside the awning when she looked over at me, “Ryan, do you need a ride?”  I smiled and embarrassingly answered back, “I am waiting on my mom to pick me up.  I got grounded.”  After about a minute of my coworkers having a good laugh and teasing me about my momma having to pick me up, she says, “It’s about to rain.  Get in my car with me and wait till she gets here.”  I took her up on her offer, and we sat in her car and talked.  It was strange, as if we turned back into the kids we were before we were changed by social pressures to no longer be friends.  About that time the rain started to pour down.

She looked at me and said, “You know Ryan, I have to tell you something.”  Her smile left her face and she looked right at me.  “When we were kids you hurt me really bad, and I don’t think you ever noticed it.”

I was puzzled, I asked what I had done because I honestly had no clue.  “When we were in middle school I had the biggest crush on you, and I knew you always dressed really nice.  I thought you would like me if I had really nice clothes, too.  I saved my money and worked really hard and bought a very nice shirt.  It was pink and fluffy, and I was so proud of it.  It was the nicest shirt I ever owned.  I stood outside your class waiting for you to see me as you got out.  You walked out with your friends, looked right at me, and smiled and said, ‘Nice shirt…looks like one of those SnoBall cakes.'” She said my friends and I laughed and went on to our next class.

She also said that she threw her shirt away that night and cried.  We sat there in the rain a while longer.  I looked her dead in the eyes and I told her with the most sincere heart, “I am so sorry, I do not even remember.”  She tried to laugh it off like it was nothing, but that was something she kept with her for 3 years now.  For me it was a brief moment of social gain and to make me feel like the funny guy.

I gave her a hug, and I feel she truly forgave me.  At that time my mom arrived to pick me up.  I didn’t sleep much that night as I sat listening to my Walkman looking up at my ceiling.  I started to question if I was as nice of a person as I truly thought I was.

I thought of this pulling into work this morning.  It served as a reminder to me and how I hope to treat others with my words and actions.  If you are a person who has ever been hurt by someone’s words or actions, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.  I also am sorry for the times I may have hurt someone and not even realized.  We give our kids the talks in life: sex, drugs, stay in school.  The talk about kindness and putting others before yourself is just as important.  If any of my friends or family are hurting today, I am praying for you.  Know there is a Heavenly Father who loves you so much and everything does get better.  Be the change.  Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis