This month, I’m part of a group of more than 1,500 women in Northeast Ohio who have been reading a book called “Zip It,” by Karen Ehman, which challenges us to use our words wisely. It has been eye opening because it’s not only about the words we use, it’s about how we feel when we say them, the way we say them, and so much more.
It’s really made me think — we’re all in this thing called life together. We’re all “doing life together.” So, why not work harder at making it easier on all of us by being just a little bit nicer, more thoughtful and grateful to everyone around you? It really comes into play as a parent, because little ears are always listening and, well, I know I’ve lost my cool and said the wrong things in front of my kids one too many times. So this was the perfect challenge for this mama.
One of the first questions the author asks is if there was ever a phrase spoken to or about you that still echoes in your mind from the past. Was it encouraging or hurtful? How does thinking about it shape your perspective on how to use your words today?
This made me remember a note a friend passed to me about 14 years ago. I was sitting at a conference for work during a time in my life where I was really trying to get back on my feet again. I’d had some rough years. It was at a time when I was just starting to crawl out of a very dark place. I struggled with depression and, most of all, feeling loved. I was working hard to get things turned around, raising my daughter, and really starting to grow my confidence in knowing that I was worthy to be loved.
As I sat there at the conference, my friend passed me a note from the other side of the table. Kinda giggling inside and feeling like I was in middle school, I opened the note. It read, “Love looks really great on you.” I remember thinking, “What? Me? Really?” It totally caught me by surprise. I remember beaming with joy inside as I read it.
For whatever reason that day, after going through so much pain, it was exactly the encouragement I needed. And as you can see, it meant so much to me that I still have the note after 14 years. It left a lasting impression. It was exactly the words of friendship I needed at the time.
So, my advice is that if you’re ever that friend who could pass along a word of encouragement to another friend, don’t hesitate. Even if it seems small, pass the note.
It’s pretty amazing the impression we leave can leave on our kids, family and friends. Now, I challenge myself to find opportunities to tell others encouraging words. You have the opportunity, too — be the reason someone smiles today.