The things we say and do can forever impact the people around us, especially little impressionable minds. At 33 I am so forgetful it is scary but my Facebook friends are often astonished at the level of details I remember things from our childhood. One friend in particular I have fond memories of is always amazed that I can remember the Halloween costume she wore when we we in third grade or the bands we listened to in her room in junior high.
I sometimes wonder if my memories are watercolored because of the emotions they conjure up. Was that leader of the "Snob Mob' really as mean and ruthless as I remember her? Were the adults in my life really as caught up in their careers as I felt they were? As I look at my life now a lot of the choices I make are because of what Paul David Tripp describes as "interpretation of experience." He stresses that our attitudes and behaviors are byproducts of our interpretation of experience.
"Human beings made in the image of God do not live life based on the FACTS of their experience, but rather on the interpretation of experience."
It's why two children growing up in the same household can have completely, mind boggling memories of their childhood. It's why one of them can remember that Grandpa was the nicest person on the planet and the other can think he was a selfish, mean man.
I'm getting a little off topic here, I just wanted to demonstrate "interpretation of experience".
We each come into contact with children at different levels in our day-to-day living. Some of us have lots of them living under our roofs, some of you are fostering multiple little hearts, some of you are privileged to have grandchildren, some of you may only see children at the grocery store or library. Whether you see a child 16 hours a day or 2 days a year, stop and take a minute to think about how you are treating them, reacting to them and responding to them.
I can think of many moments in my life both positive and negative. I remember when I was in maybe 3rd grade, my piano teacher said, "You are bold!" and I remember asking my mom what this meant. I am not so sure she meant it as a compliment but I have learned that sometimes boldness, when used in a proper setting, can be quite beneficial. I have the snapshot of that exact moment frozen in my memory film. I'm still learning to filter that boldness but at that instant she could have voiced her opinion in a negative way. I thought so highly of her I can't imagine how it would have impacted me.
When I was in junior high, I had an English teacher who really believed in me and my writing. I remember him standing in my mom's office (which was inside the junior high principal's office - think I got away with anything in school?), putting his arm over my shoulder and telling my mom, "This girl writes with a wisdom beyond her years." That may or may not have been true but it bolstered me up and I still carry that in my heart a lot of years later.
I will be honest, I have a lot of negative memories that splatter my memory bank ad nauseum but I hold the positive memories in my pocket like stardust and they keep me going. Now imagine with me, if you will, if someone had spoke God's promises into my life and I recalled those and sprinkled those like stardust? That is what I want for my boys.
In the book-turned movie The Help, Abilene tells Mae Mobley over and over and over, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important," because she knows no one else will and there is so much negativity in that child's life that she needs a cheerleader. Abilene also knows she won't be there forever and she has to instill this truth in this baby girl at the youngest age possible.
I recently witnessed a moment that made me choke back tears (which, if you know me, doesn't take much). A sister at church was disciplining a child and she could have just wagged her finger at him and told him to stop but she pulled him to her, she wrapped her arms around him, she put her forehead on his forehead and she lovingly corrected him. This child does not get much love and attention from his mother at home and this sister could have just broken his spirit in two with her chastisement but I think he will lovingly remember her countenance and correction.
Where am I going with all of this? Wess Stafford, president of Compassion shares with us how a moment he shared with his daughter may have impacted even her career path:
Dr. Stafford has written a book about the impact one moment has on a child entitled Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child One Moment...Can Last Forever and I encourage you to read it and learn new ways to speak truth into a child's life (with both a capital T and lowercase).
I wouldn't be a very good Compassion blogger if I didn't also mention taking a moment to sponsor a child and if you are already a sponsor, take a moment and write your sponsored child a letter. Compassion has some really neat new stationary for your online letters.
And you can take this one step further, think about the people in your life whose positive "moments" have stayed with you through the years. Take a minute to look them up and send them a note thanking them for the impact they made in your life. Through a series of events my husband met someone I went to school with. This boy was kind of a loner and very, very quiet in school. When my husband mentioned meeting him I said "Wow, I can't believe he remembered me, I don't think he ever said more than 5 words to me," I about crumbled in two when my husband replied, "Huh, that's weird because he said he remembers you well and that you were always so very nice to him." I don't remember being nice to him, I don't remember ever having a conversation with him. And that right there is why we always need to be intentional about our moments. Because positive moments piled one on top of the other make a huge difference in a child's life. And negative moments piled on on top of the other make a huge chasm in a child's life.
Be intentional this week about speaking truth and Truth into someone's life. Tell a child, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important,"...even if they are not yet. Because one day they will remember that someone believed in them. And they will be smart, kind, and important because that is the truth that you poured in to them.