Thursday

Nice Words Make a Difference

Well, I finally saw "Fireproof" and I have to say that it was a terrific movie. I've never seen Kirk Cameron play someone who behaved meanly, but that's beside the point. It is a memorable movie with a great message and I would suggest giving it to the married couples on your Christmas list.

The one scene that stood out for me in the movie has been tickling my brain for a couple of weeks. I need to write about it because this is something that all of us do. Even if you haven't seen the movie you will know what I am talking about.

Do you remember the scene after Kirk Cameron tells the flirtatious doctor to stay away from his wife and a nurse is standing outside the doctor's office listening to everything? Do you remember what she did? She went right back to the nurse's station and told everybody what had happened, but when Kirk Cameron's estranged wife came up and wanted to know what they were talking about she went silent. "It's none of my business," the gossip told another nurse later.

This nurse was quick to spread news about someone to other people, but she was not willing to tell the news to the person who really mattered. If this nurse had told the wife, the movie might have been a lot shorter because the wife might have gone back to her husband.

Gossip, whether it is good news or bad news, is not right. The old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all," is good rule of thumb when talking about other people--actually talking about other people is not the best thing to do. Psychologists say that talking about other people is not a very intelligent form of conversation. Another rule of thumb might be that if you can't say something to someone directly then don't tell it to anyone else. I am not talking about seeking advice from a trusted friend about a situation, or about releasing a burden to a trusted friend. I am talking about gossip. There is a difference.

Proverbs 12:25 is sage advice when talking to other people. It says: "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."

We'll never know if Kirk Cameron's wife would have been encouraged by what her husband did because the nurse didn't tell her. Have you had this happen to you? Do you know someone who is going through a tough situation and needs an encouraging word? It doesn't matter if the person is in the wrong or right. When people do wrong a lot of times they just need to know that they can have another chance. Encouraging words do not need to validate an act; they are meant to give value or return it to a person.

People need encouraging words whether they are going through a difficult time or not. This does not mean that we have to be less than genuine or be sickeningly sweet. We just need to be honest and speak up if someone does something that we like or admire. It's good for them and it's good for us.