I recently contacted a very talented acquaintance of mine in reference to a piece of her work; work that I truly enjoyed. She responded graciously, but in that response I found myself taken back by something my new friend revealed to me. She thanked me for my kind words and told me that they were a welcomed change to some of the notes and e-mails that she receives on a regular basis.
“I needed a smile tonight…you can’t imagine how nice it is to see your name in my inbox.”
I’ll be honest; when I read her remark I was confused. I mean her work is impeccable. The thought that anyone could think otherwise was simply – or perhaps complexly – foreign to me. How could I marvel at the talent that God gave this person and the way she uses that talent to honor God, while someone else criticized and demeaned her innate skill?
As a singer, songwriter, and even as a radio host, I know first hand what it’s like to put your work out there for the world to see and hear. It isn’t easy, especially if discouragement has been a familiar theme in your life. There have been tymes when I worried myself sick over what people would think. Will they like it? And by “it” I mean me. After all, my work is a part of me, right?
Suffice it to write that after reading my new friend’s message, I felt her words deeply; perhaps more deeply than she intended me to. My instinct was to write back and tell this person that those other people were crazy and she need not concern herself with their inferior opinions. As I considered my words though I realized that nothing I would write could take away the hurt of someone’s negative comments.
Have you ever noticed that a thousand compliments cannot soothe the pain of one insult? Why is that? Why are the unkind words easier to believe than the caring ones? It’s true that not everyone reacts to an insult in the same way. Some will refute it and use it to fuel their fire to prove the insulter wrong, while some believe it and let it prevent them from achieving their goals. Others will try to push it aside and continue forward, but with tentative steps, always expecting the next insulting shoe to fall. The commonality? No matter how it influences a person, an insult is remembered.
Even though kind words cannot combat the mean ones, they do help to soften the blow when others choose to hurl insults. If we enjoy the talent that God’s given someone, we should tell the person. If someone is using his or her talent to honor God, we should applaud the person. If we don’t like something, we should apply the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
The truth of the matter is we are not going to like everything that a person says or does. We’re not going to like every opinion a person has, everything a person creates or every choice a person makes. We, however, each have a choice of our own every tyme we open our mouths, set our fingers to the keys, or put a pen to paper; we can build up or we can tear down. We can offer encouragement to someone or we can be a stumbling block in someone’s life.
So, do I plan to write back to my acquaintance and offer her some encouraging words? Absolutely. Why? Well, because they are true and she deserves to read them – and also because I want her to continue on with her work so I can enjoy the next installment. :) And while I know that my kind words won’t heal the damage done by somebody's callous ones, I hope she will draw on them when she needs an uplifting reminder of the good she’s doing for God and for others.
Don’t be the one insult - be one of the thousand compliments.