"Ain't she a little darling?" The woman's voice shocked me out of my weary perusal of the different kinds of canned tomatoes. I managed to smile at her and then turned my eyes to the "little darling".
My eyes widened and I gasped. "No! Micaela, no!" Somehow she had got a hold of the bag of apples and had chewed on one so much through the bag that she had reduced it to applesauce. Micaela gave me a slobbery grin and continued gnawing until I pried the bag free. Then the "little darling" balled her hands into fists and screamed.
I turned apologetically to the woman. What must she think of me? It was obvious that Micaela must have chewed on that apple for several minutes to accomplish such a disaster. I had been ignoring the child that sat right in front of me on the cart.
But when I turned to the lady her eyes were full of nothing less than love. Adela popped her head out from the side of the cart and said, "Hi."
The lady smiled at Adela and looked back to me. "You have two precious girls. I bet they are a handful. I bet they are well-loved, too. Nice to see that. You are doing a good job, mamma." She patted my hand and moved her own cart along down the ailse. My mouth was open like a fish. I closed it and felt my eyes sting a little.
What she said to me was pure and simple something said to build me up. She hadn't needed to do that. She could have been justified in a dozen ways to offer advice or even lecture me a bit. But she didn't. She found something positive she could tell me and she strengthened me with those words of love.
Lord knew I needed that. Trips to the store are trying. Adela wants to explore and Micaela wants to chew on everything or toss it out of the cart. By the time we leave I'm an exhausted, snappy, defeated mamma. But that day I left the store feeling more like a conqueror and less like the wounded civilian.
Behind someone's back and to their face, our words should always come from love. I know I am guilty of not always doing this. I get angry or feel scandalized and what I speak tears down more than it builds up. It reminds me of a child building a castle out of blocks. It only takes a tiny nudge to send the whole thing tumbling down, but it takes careful concentration and energy to build it up.
I hope my words always reflect the love and consideration that woman showed me that day. Our words should give someone strength and peace and joy when they talk to me and never the opposite. May what we speak to others always be full of truth and encouragement.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.