Last week I was at the grocery store with both kids. If it seems like my stories always take place in the grocery store, that is probably because I feel like I am always in the grocery store. (Can I get an AMEN?)
My five year old was in full extroverted mode. She could not even contain her excitement about being in the vicinity of other people and was literally dancing through the aisles. She does not walk, my Scarlette. She hops. She bops. Basically, the rhythm has gotten her.
It was one of those days where I was just exhausted. I had gotten discouraging news, I had been up with the baby all night, and I was doing my level best to stay patient as I reminded Scarlette again and again to be mindful of the other people in the store who did not view the produce aisle as their own personal stage.
I had pulled her in close to me yet again as I perused the strawberries when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see an elderly woman with coiffed white hair smiling at me. “May I see your baby?” she asked me and I knew I liked her right away in part because she reminded me of my great-grandma Sybil but also because she asked me before touching my baby, which very much appeals to the germophobe in me.
We struck up a conversation because I enjoy talking to strangers in grocery stores (I really do not know where Scarlette gets that habit from) and she absentmindedly stroked Scarlette’s hair as she talked.
“You have beautiful babies,” she told me.
(See, I knew I liked her. And also she’s right. My kids are so cute.)
“I was watching you with that one,” she continued, pointing to Scarlette. “I can see that she’s a wild one but you are such a good mama. You’re so patient with her and I know you must be tired with this little boy here. But I can tell your kids are well-kept and well-loved.”
Then she went on to tell me about the son she had lost to cancer when he was thirteen years old. “Maybe if it happened today they could have saved him but back then there wasn’t anything they could do. So you just keep being grateful for your babies,” she told me.
When I got home I ugly-cried as I recounted the story to my husband.
That particular morning had been full of noise, the world chattering about the scandal of words from a potential politician, and it all felt heavy and dark and oppressive. And I turned off the news when it said it was “just words.” Words are always so much more than a “just.” Proverbs says that the words of the reckless pierce like swords (12:18) and that is how words become weapons, when we level them at others in hate, when we twist them into points to strike a blow.
But it also says that gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (16:24)
That a well-spoken word at just the right moment is like golden apples in settings of silver. (25:11)
What the kind woman in the grocery store gave me was just the right word at just the right moment. She saw me weary that morning, under the weight of the world, and noticed that I was doing my very best and she spoke encouragement into my life with her words.
They were sweetness to the soul.
As a writer I am always weighing my words, shaping them to reflect my heart and praying that life is breathed into the text as my fingers fly across a keyboard.
But that interaction touched me so deeply that I determined to speak encouragement aloud as much as I can right now, to say something uplifting to near everyone I pass in this season where the words humming through the wireless avenues of our lives all feel charged and barbed.
It’s a small part but it meant something big to me.
Let’s make our words a gift.
This week my book Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected is only 99 cents on Amazon.
In continuing the theme of words as a gift I would love for you to gift a copy to a woman in your life who is in need of some encouragement and laughter in their day.
For just 99 cents it is a sweet and simple way to send a thoughtful (and budget-friendly) gift full of hope.
(To send as a gift on Amazon click the button that says “give as a gift” to enter in the email address of the person you’d like to send it to along with a sweet note and it will send it right to them!)