Kind Words and a Lovely Memory

Have you ever made a mistake? Of course. As we say, we all have. Have you ever considered the words you said after you made a mistake? Of course. Well, hopefully we all have. Have you ever thought of those words, the ones after a mistake, as kind words? Some of those words and phrases seem to have fallen out of fashion. It may have been a while since you’ve heard—or said—

I should have realized.

Oh, my bad.

I apologize.

And when we’re on the receiving end of someone willing to take the burden of the blame, what are the kind words we can offer?

No sweat.

Don’t worry about it.

Thanks. It’s fine.

As one sometimes all-too-willing to shoulder the blame—maybe even all of it (as you may recall from earlier posts, now is not the the time to psychoanalyze me), I’m all-too familiar with the first and second set of kind words. Not always the second, but no big deal, I probably didn’t give them a chance to say it. Anyway. It can be a burden. You have your own burdens. And I hope someone offers you kind words often and in multiples when those burdens or flaws or undesirable characteristics are on display for the world to see.

My burden could have been substantially heavier after one particularly heart-wrenching, achingly difficult decision I had to help make, which resulted in multiple people crying but with scarce little to offer in the kind words department. I was totally convinced it was all my fault. How could it not be? And then, despite the roar inside my head, I was able to hear some of the kindest words I ever heard, whispered in my ear:

It’s not your fault.

It still was for a long while. But those four little words made an impact, lifting my burden little by little and giving me a small hope and eventually freedom from self condemnation. Those were four hard working words. Given as a kindness, taken as a lifeline.

Social media gives us a chance like we’ve never had to offer kind words to friend and stranger alike, early and often. I glance at my running Twitter stream and I see someone ask for prayers for a new job opportunity. “Prayers!” “Thank you!” she tweets back. All done in less than 30 seconds.

A loss of a pet and the resulting grief expressed on Facebook. We all have a chance to rally around the person, holding them up, offering kind words that really do mean something to them.

Kind gestures count, but words give us a chance for kindness-on-the-fly. A moment of opportunity. A moment lost if we let it fly by. You never know the impact those words might have—could have. You never know when you may never have another chance to offer the kindness of words. However and whenever those words are needed. When you make a mistake. When someone else makes a mistake. When someone can be supported. When they can be encouraged in a struggle or for no reason whatsoever. You just have something kind to say and say it.

That’s what my friend Scott did at our class reunion. In a crowd of 150 or so of your closest friends, sometimes it’s hard to say more than “It’s so good to see you, ” or, “Where are you now?” before someone else you haven’t seen since graduation is within earshot. Scott, however, used that small window of time and gave me four encouraging words:

I read your blog.

Although we had become Facebook friends, I had not seen or talked to Scott in thirty years. And out of the blue, he encouraged me. I bet he didn’t even know it. Two days later, I got the news that Scott had died overnight, of an apparent heart attack. Young and not the heart attack type. But the type for leaving kind words the last time I and probably most of my classmates would ever talk to him.

What kind words will we leave today, tonight or tomorrow to those we don’t even know we’re leaving them to? Don’t let any opportunity pass you by. Note to self: Admit a mistake. Forgive a mistake. Support. Encourage. Use your words. Your kind words.


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