Up, down, and back up again go her eyes, forming judgement within seconds. I hear a pop of air as she sucks her teeth, finally looking me in the eyes declaring, “I thought you were taller.”
“I wish I was!” I call out as I keep on shopping. I thought of a smartass reply but decided not to go there. I remember my friend Sadie telling me to keep it ‘light and polite’ in such situations.
Normally, I value critical words especially after a performance or when someone has read something I’ve written. I want to learn and grow so I try to process each situation and see if there is truth to what was said.
But, that encounter left me bewildered. And instead of tears I left the supermarket laughing. Um, yeah, I’m short! You may have seen me with heels on. You may have seen me on tv sitting in a tall chair. Sorry that my 5’ 2 ½’’ frame left you disappointed. You’ll have to hand that complaint over to God because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it!
If you were to tell me that my phrasing in a song could have been better, or my clothes were a distraction, or what I said was hurtful, I could ponder those things and make a change.
How often do we speak to others in critical tones over things that they have no control over? I ask myself if I’ve done this…I’m sure even in this area I come up short.
Contemplating how rude her words sounded I could get offended. She may not have meant it to be offensive. But, her tone definitely had an air of shock and disappointment to it. And her actions indicated judgement.
On Facebook we see people passionately degrading and dehumanizing someone with just a few keystrokes.
It’s not in the Bible but it’s etched in my mind as a proverb. “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all!”
Rarely do people keep their opinions to themselves these days. Social media makes us all feel like we have to weigh in. Whether the issue is inconsequential or a story that impacts a nation, everyone wants to weigh in.
But, where has all the kindness gone?
Are we communicating with one another or are we comparing, competing, and condemning?
Thoughtless words can hurt as much as words spoken in anger.
I wonder how many times someone thought I was being rude. At my age I can look back on situations from years gone by and evaluate how I could have better handled the awkward or tense moments I’ve faced along the way.
As I head off to church this morning I have Proverbs 16:24 in mind:
Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
I pray that my words will be a blessing to someone’s soul as I strive to greet people with kindness instead of condemnation.