Just a word….
I was on the road most of the day, and I popped into a convenience store for, well, something convenient. As I was standing in line, a gentlemen came into the store and unloaded verbally on one of the cashiers. She, and the rest of us, looked on in horror as he chastised her, cursed her, demanded the manager, and then threatened physical violence if she didn’t produce the manager right away.
The manager arrived quickly, tried to calm the man down to no avail, and then finally insisted that he leave the store.
All the store patrons, me included, wondered what the man was so upset about. We all talked about how angry he was, how scary he was, and oooh the language he used. The cashier was checking people out, and I could see clearly that she had tears in her eyes. Soon, everyone else noticed it too, and we all became quiet as the cashier cried. She kept working, and we remained quiet. As I approached her, I said, “Are you ok?”
She replied, “Yes. I just can’t believe that someone would get so upset over being asked to move a vehicle that was blocking a gas-pump.”
WHAT!? I thought surely she had spat on his only child, short-changed him by like a zillion dollars, or something worse to deserve even half of the blistering tirade he had in store for her. He was operating at 100% of his verbal anger capacity over being asked to relocate a vehicle.
What happened was terrible, but it’s what I noticed after it was all over that struck me most. Not just the cashier, but everyone around the encounter was affected. People in line were upset for the cashier, then sorry for her, and then angry that someone would say such things to anyone. It was like all the positive energy in the room was sucked out and replaced with malcontent.
This event, and other encounters with negative people this past week, prompted me to think about how one negative person, one negative event, or even one negative word can affect so many people.
Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death”
Words matter. With a word, you can sew flowers of the soul, or seeds of destruction. What we say will take root in someone around us whether it be a co-worker, a family member, a child, or a stranger. Remember: We all reap what we sow.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
If everyone followed this advice, most of the chatter on the airwaves would cease. I would go so far as to say that some stations would be silent 24/7.
If you applied the above verse to your life, would there be more silence than speech in your life?
It’s easy to be negative. Whining, complaining, criticizing, under-cutting, and one-upping others is a nasty habit. We all have problems, both big and small, but being negative, as well as being positive, is a choice.
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here’s the other side of the coin, “Guard your hearts and your minds.” So, not only are we to be positive, but we are to guard our hearts and minds against negativity. That’s not to say we can stick our heads in the sand when bad things happen, but we can separate ourselves from negative people (people who tear you down rather than build you up), negative energy (people with a bad attitude), and unproductive talk (gossip, swearing, discouraging words).
Being positive is choice and a practice. If you’re not normally positive, then get that way. How?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Focus your mind on the things that are ‘unseen’. Pray about it, ask for God’s help, and put it into practice daily.
- Write down the most important people in your life on a piece of paper. Keep a mental tally of how many positive and negative things you say to them during the day then write it down at night. At the end of the week, add it up. Are you more negative than positive? If so, then start being more positive by catching others doing something good and tell them so. Thank them for doing or saying something positive. Compliment them, or just tell them you love them and why.
- Pick out one person a day to encourage. This can be someone you work with, someone you are friends with, or an extended family member.
- Choose your thoughts carefully. When you wake up in the morning decide what thoughts you are going to think. Concentrate on positive thoughts, and reject the negative thoughts. Pray daily, concentrate on God’s word, ask for his help in developing encouragement within you, and soon it will be easier than you think.
Believe it or not, I did not write this post for the man in the convenience store. I wrote it for me. I have not been as vigilant as I should be about my speech as of late. I have said some things that I should not have in the heat of pain and anger. That’s no excuse. I’m in control of my mouth and not the other way around (contrary to popular opinion).
Hopefully, you will glean something from this lesson-to-me as well.
Here’s to watching our mouths, and working on being a positive force in God’s army.