Saying the right thing
"Carrottop!" the children shrieked as they chased the sobbing child across the playground. Suddenly it seemed a giant loomed up out of nowhere. The giant (a fifth-grade teacher well over six feet tall) put her hand gently on the frightened child's head. "Little girl," she said tenderly, "You have the most beautiful hair I have ever seen. And don't you ever forget it."
I never did. More than half a century has passed, but I have never forgotten the love I felt at that moment or those words that permanently freed me from unhappiness about the color of my hair.
"A word fitly spoken," says the Bible, "is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." n1 Wouldn't that make a lovely goal: to consistently try to speak in terms that heal and bless?
n1 Proverbs 25:11.
Most of us would like to be kind, to say the right thing at the right time. Then, why does it seem so uncommon a talent that it is often considered an art? Might it not be that we are seeing ourselves and other people too often in the wrong way -- as imperfect material beings instead of what we truly are, God's spiritual children?
Mortals are not God's children. They are misconceptions of what is really true of God and man. God's man is His infinite expression, reflecting lovingkindness, spiritual strength, immortal beauty.
To wrongfully identify ourselves and others as mortals limits our ability and even our desire to express love. It causes us to fear being misunderstood, and it is often this fear that leaves us mute and thwarts even our best intentions.
In reference to mankind's growth in practicing religion on the basis of the truth of being, Mary Baker Eddy n2 writes, "AT present mortals progress slowly for fear of being thought ridiculous." n3 How frequently this applies as well to our resistance to saying the right thing at the right time!
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 68.
I was almost caught in this trap not long ago. On the last lap of a transcontinental flight, we changed planes. A young steward made the usual announcements but in a novel way with wit and humor. While he responsibly stressed the importance of the instructions he was giving, his audience listened with great interest and enjoyment. What an improvement, I thought, over the usual dull and sometimes inarticulate announcements. In his way he was making a unique contribution to the safety of the passengers.
Later when he approached my seat, I wanted to thank him, but hesitated. Finally I said: "Thank you so much for the entertainment. I loved it!" He was thrilled. "You'll never know what you've done for me," he said. He explained that a woman across the aisle had just "torn him to shreds" and threatened to report him for those same announcements. Twice he came back to thank me. When I left the plane, he smiled and said, "You were wonderful!"
Christ Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." n4 What better way to begin than in our daily conversation. If all of us could be alert to watch for the opportunities we constantly have to speak the kindly word, the comforting word -- and even, when necessary, the helpfully corrective word -- what blessings this could bring. In many ways the lives of all of us would be filled with "apples of gold in pictures of silver."
n4 John 13:34.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak. Numbers 22:38