The Power of a Positive Word
Updated: Jun 6, 2018
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. ~ Proverbs 12:25 (NAS)
After commuting to work in the nation’s capitol for five years, I was thankful to move to Pensacola where my 20-mile commute was a breeze. No carpool worries. No complaints about the dozen or so traffic lights. No sitting in a dead-stop traffic jam. That is, until 9/11 when the road to front gate of the naval base became a parking lot. While there had always been restricted access to the base, the days following the attack more than doubled my commute time, with most of it spent inching my way towards the gate. I tried to keep things in perspective. After all, life in America had changed for everyone on that tragic day. This was the new normal. However, I confess after a few weeks, my perspective began to focus on my inconvenience.
One morning, as my turn came to go through the gate, I rolled down my window to hand my ID to the gate guard, expecting the customary nod and casual wave through. As I came to a stop, the gate guard boomed out a cheerful greeting, “Good morning, pretty lady!” Surprised and startled, I almost dropped my ID. After he examined my credentials, he snapped upward in a salute, presented a big smile and told me to have a great day. A smile instantly replaced my scowl. Wow! The next morning, as I poked along in traffic, I found myself looking for the cute gate guard. When I spotted him, I changed lanes so I could go through his gate. Again, I was greeted with a big smile and “Hello beautiful. How are you today?” I managed to squeak out an answer and offer back my best smile. Another salute and I was on my way. Day after day, as traffic came to a stop, I looked ahead to see where he was and strategized my moves to ensure I passed through his gate. Day after day, he had a warm smile and a good word. Yep, if only for a few moments, I felt like a giggly teenager and it felt good.
A few weeks had gone by when I shared with a coworker friend about my daily encounter with the gate guard. I expected teasing, but was met with a stunned look. She replied, “You mean he calls you beautiful, too?" Another coworker joined our conversation, “Are you talking about the cute gate guard? He calls me beautiful, too!" A male coworker chimed in, "Well, he doesn’t call me pretty lady, but he does call me sir and salutes.” The feeling was mutual; each one of us gals us confessed we felt a little put out to discover the gate guard guy undoubtedly offered kind words to everyone.
Sadly, the day came that he was no longer guarding the gate. I missed his encouraging words and quick smile, even if they were not reserved solely for me. Although I never knew his name (it was covered by protective gear), I wonder if he had any idea what a positive impact he made on those of us who traveled his way. I know for certain he turned around my grumpy attitude. Even today, we will occasionally talk about the “cute gate guard guy” and the effect of his words.
The Scripture says a pleasant word is like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24). I thought about my own words. Are they sweet and healing? Do they edify and encourage? Do they make such a difference that someone purposefully passes my way? Will someone still be talking about my words many years later?