I often find myself lost in the vortex that is the internet. It seems to suck you in and before you know it, hours have passed. I like to think I have more self-control than that, but apparently I do not. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it is not.
Last weekend, I was scrolling through Instagram, a picture sharing app on my phone, and scrolled across a great quote I have seen many times before, but for some reason, it struck my differently this time. The quote is from a lady named Ruthie Lindsey. She said “If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.”
While there is nothing specifically profound about Ms. Lindsey’s words, I think we need to hear it and put it into practice. As all of those near the coast and in the Houston area have found out recently, you never know what the next day will bring. You never know if you will even have a tomorrow. So often we wait until a person is gone to list all the ways we loved him or her. We share it with the decedent’s relatives and friends. But in life, while the person was standing before us, we often avoid compliments and statements that might be mistaken as flirtation or other inappropriateness. We have somehow decided, as a culture, that the only people we can share a nice comment with are those nearest to us – family or very close friends. Otherwise our intentions might be misinterpreted. While I understand the boundaries and limitations we need to logically place on our interactions with people we don’t know well, particularly those of the opposite sex if we are married, I think we all need to loosen up a bit. If a man tells me that I have nice eyes, it doesn’t have to mean he wants to run away with me. If a bank teller compliments my glasses frames, it doesn’t have to mean that he’s looking for a date.
While those compliments about physical attributes are nice, there are other things that mean far more (to me anyway) that I think that people would be more comfortable hearing from anyone in their life. You are so generous. Your words are always encouraging. Thank you for investing in my kid. I appreciate the way you spent time with my elderly mom, it really took a burden off me today. You are the most patient person I know! Your kindness doesn’t go unnoticed. All of these things hit far deeper than “You have pretty hair.”
So friends, let’s start saying these things. When you see something beautiful in someone, speak it. Let’s stop waiting to pass by their casket and share these nice sentiments with their grieving family members. Let’s let go of the notion that telling someone you like their haircut “means something”. Let’s make a point to embrace the character qualities and strengths that we see and spend five seconds telling the person what you appreciate about them.
Right now, put the newspaper down. Step away from the computer where you’re reading this. Go find someone in your life and tell them now what a treasure they are. You never know. You may not get another chance. Go speak beauty into the lives of those you love. Go now!