I have discovered that a person often becomes what she is told she will become. As I look back at stray comments made by strangers, friends, teachers and parents, I realize the power that we human beings have over one another. We can make a difference in someone’s life just by what we say, or even by a look.
When I was a child, we moved from Minnesota to the suburbs of Seattle. The first Sunday there, my family slipped into a pew at a nearby congregation. I hoped no one noticed us in our newness.
At the first hymn, we swept to our feet with the rest of the congregation, and the ringing sound of “Holy, Holy, Holy” flowed across the church. In the pew ahead of us was a stooped elderly woman. As the singing continued, she turned slowly around and looked at my mother. Mom was singing with her usual gusto. The woman’s eyes lit up, and she smiled from ear to ear. I rejoiced in the knowledge that my mom was terrific and that someone else had noticed it. That one gesture from a stranger in a new church home gave me the gift of appreciation for a musical voice. That woman’s smile opened a door.
This message is adapted from “Unexpected Praise” written by Joan Sellers in the April 2004 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather magazine).