I stopped in to visit my sister Cheree yesterday. She had a total knee replacement seven weeks ago and is still recovering. It’s been slow-going and, at times, discouraging—and far more painful and difficult than she had expected. I’ve tried to visit her as often as I could, feeling badly that there was not much I could do to make her feel better. She stayed with my mother for more than a month, and Mom did a fine job of caring for her, but finally Cheree felt the next step in her recovery was to return to her condo and get back to her “normal” life as much as possible.
One of those normal things she wanted to get back to was having her grandchildren around. She was finally able to hobble around her small condo, and they are big enough to help and not be totally dependent on her. Cheree is a wonderful grandma and usually spends a lot of time with her grandchildren. She’d been missing Parker, Hannah and Ella.
When I arrived at her house yesterday she told me Steven (her son) had just left to pick up Hannah and Ella. Parker was sick, so she wanted them to come for a sleepover, mostly to get them away from his germs. We visited for a while and then finally Uncle Steven arrived with the girls and Happy Meals for their supper.
Hannah (8) came in all smiles. Ella (3) was smiling, too, but it didn’t take long to realize she wasn’t her usual sunny little self. She was a little fussy and didn’t want to eat. She wasn’t pleased about the changes Cheree had made to “her” bedroom. She wanted to watch a My Little Pony cartoon and I could see her eying the spot where I was sitting across from the television.
I was about to leave anyway, so I stood up and she quickly hopped up on the couch behind me. At last! All was right in her little world and she settled down to watch her cartoon. I put on my jacket and said farewell to Cheree. I called out goodbye to Hannah, and then said, “Bye, Ella!” She was engrossed in her show and Cheree prompted her to say goodbye. “Bye!” she waved and went back to My Little Pony.
I walked out and was headed for the parking lot when Cheree opened the door behind me. “Ella just told me that she loves Aunt Cindy better than baby squirrels!” she called.
I burst out laughing. Better than baby squirrels??? Where did that come from? I wasn’t quite sure how to take it. Was that a compliment?
Before I could reach my car, Cheree opened the door again. She must have read my mind, for she called out to me, “She says she really loves baby squirrels!”
Okay, then! Not sure how much interaction Ella has actually had with baby squirrels, but I will accept that as a compliment. It gave me a warm glow—and lots of chuckles ever since. Cutie!
I was still thinking about it (and smiling) when I woke up this morning. I realized there are two things to consider about what Ella said (not including the obvious baby squirrels???) The first is that it never hurts to compliment someone. Silly me! I was pleased that I rank higher than baby squirrels on Ella’s list! Have any of her other aunts or great-aunts achieved that lofty standing? And the lesson is that if you can’t find something nice to say about someone, you can always say they’re better than baby squirrels!
Our words have the power to make or break someone’s day. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” In other words, a compliment is a gift. God wants the words of our mouths to be edifying and encouraging to others. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) Our words should be gracious, kind and wise. According to Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” He tells us as well in Colossians 3:16 to encourage one another and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
A couple of words of caution, though, about giving compliments: Make sure they are true, first of all. False flattery does not count! “They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.” (Psalm 12:2) Secondly, save your praise for others, not yourself! Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”
I am reminded as well by Ella’s words to remember to tell the ones you love that you indeed do love them. They may know it already, of course, but it never hurts to hear those words again, does it? I try always to speak those words whenever I am saying goodbye to one of my loved ones or a dear friend, whether it is on the telephone or in person. If one of us should leave this earth before we meet again, I want the last words between us to be Love you!
Jesus had appeared to his disciples three times after His resurrection already when He asked Simon Peter, “…Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? (John 21:14-21) He wanted to hear Peter say he loved Him—but He also wanted Him to prove it by his obedience. The words I love you should not be empty words, but backed up by action. I John 3:18 says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” The words are important when they are heartfelt and sincere, but even more important are the deeds that demonstrate them. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) How did Jesus demonstrate His love for us? He proved it by His sacrificial service on the cross, providing the free gift of salvation.
Let us be conscious of the words we use today. May they be uplifting and edifying to others, spoken from a true heart and out of love. Better than baby squirrels any day!