Earlier this week, after a long day at work, I stopped by the mailbox on my way back to my townhouse.
Well, if we’re being truthful, this is the part where I admit that I hadn’t gotten my mail in about a week and a half. But anyway, I digress.
In the stack of bills, circulars and ads, I found a small envelope with my name and address handwritten on outside. In the sea of mail that I’d pull from the mailbox and laid in the passenger seat of my car, was this one tiny piece of handwritten mail.
I opened it to find a handwritten note from the children’s minister at my church. Thank you, he wrote, for serving on the children’s team. It is a joy to see their faces learning and laughing each week.
At the end of a month when I’ve felt like less than a good Sunday School teacher and a week that hadn’t been particularly easy, his words were like a balm.
Every day we’re given millions of opportunities to speak. A conversation with a good friend. An off-handed comment to a coworker. A retort to that total stranger on Twitter who said something we didn’t agree with. A grumbled response to that guy who cut you off in traffic.
But the thing about our words is that we have a choice each time we open our mouths. We can choose to speak life—to encourage, express gratitude or appreciate.
Or we can speak death. We can tear people down, spew pessimism and hurtful words. We can say one thing to someone’s face and another behind his or her back. We can degrade others for their political views, religious beliefs and mistakes.
In our world of social media, we have a million opportunities to express our opinions and share our thoughts. And sometimes the medium seems to create a false distance between us and our readers—so much that we think we can say whatever we want with no regard for feelings or respect.
This week, choose life. Wherever it is you express yourself, choose life. Encourage. Be grateful. Appreciate others.