Do you know a senior graduating this year? I know more than I can count. In fact, I have one in my home. The senior year of high school is filled with all sorts of firsts and lasts in life. It is also the year of the weening process, much life weening a child from breastfeeding. It is the time to push the baby bird out of the nest so he/she can fly on their own.
One of the things our church does to celebrate the senior class is host a senior banquet just before graduation. It is a time when parents come together with their senior student to celebrate them. The junior class sponsors the event and puts on a lovely dinner followed by what I affectionately call a good ole fashion crying party.
At the conclusion of the dinner, parents and seniors take turns standing up and reading a letter they’ve written to one another. These letters may have a funny story of two included in them but predominately they are a time to tell the other what they mean to you, how you’ve seen them impact your life and others, and what you feel God has in store for them. Pass the tissues.
The only thing more emotionally wrecking than reading your letter to your child is to sit in front of a crowded room and listen as they read theirs to you. Needless to say, Kleenex stock goes up after this event.
This was the week of senior banquet. As I sat there listening to letter after letter being read, watching parents and children shamelessly sobbing and embracing one another, I couldn’t help but think, why don’t we do this more often? I’m not talking about the crying party; but why don’t we speak life to one another more often? Why don’t we call forth the gold we see in one another? Why don’t we slow down more frequently to tell one another how much they mean to us?
And why do we reserve if for family members? How often do we pause to tell those we work with how much we appreciate them or that they’ve done great work? Our pastors? Our neighbors? Our friends?
Words are powerful little things. They are the source of life and death [Proverbs 18:21]. The Lord’s words can bring dead things back to life [Romans 4:17].
Speaking words of praise to others, speaking forth the potential we see in one another, is what I like to call mining the gold in another person’s life. It is calling forth what we see in their lives, even if they can’t see it.
As many of you know, I work with survivors of sex trafficking. One of the things I do when I first meet a girl is to get her to talk to me about herself. What does she like to do, if she even remembers? Is she into sports or maybe art? I like to dig inside and find the positives and call them forth. In her captivity, either mentally or physically, she’s been told her worth comes from her body alone. As one girl shared about her pimp she said,
He sees me as an ATM. Anytime he wants money, I’m supposed to produce it, at any hour of the day or night.”
It’s been a long time since someone spoke to her lovingly, expecting nothing in return. It’s been a long time since she’s heard a positive affirmation that reached the deepest places in her heart. Speaking honest words of edification or identifying a gift or talent I see inside her impacts her like a drink of water revives a drooping Impatient flower. She sits taller. Her countenance changes. She holds her head up higher.
This doesn’t just work with survivors of sex trafficking. I’ve seen it happen with cashiers at the grocery store, bank tellers, waiters, employees, friends, and family alike.
We all possess the ability to make a difference in every life we encounter each day. We don’t have to have money, fame or any particular skills to do so. We simply need to use our words.
Why not start mining for gold today? If you do, you’ll find yourself wealthier than you can imagine in life.