Those who know our kids know that “quiet” is not a word used to describe them (ever). Sometimes it is the random “noise for the sake of making noise” that accompanies youth. More often however it is the sounds of singing. These days, when waiting in line, or walking, or driving someplace, or anytime their mouths aren’t full of food, they like to sing. And recently it has been numbers from The Greatest Showman or Hamilton.
This morning, waiting for the early bus to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, our oldest, Michaela was singing “This is me” from The Greatest Showman a cappella. I love this type of noise and this song in particular for many reasons, but I also know it could be an annoyance for others. However, unless they say something, I just let the kids go because there is a special place in hell for parents who yank the joy out of their kids’ hearts like that.
So Michaela is singing. And a cast member (that’s what all employees at Disney are called) heard her from about 100 feet away and came over to us. This wonderful person made the walk over to compliment Michaela on her singing. She encouraged her to keep going and to consider theater, and she said that Michaela has a better voice than one of the people playing Ariel in one of the shows. She told Michaela that if she keeps up her practicing and decides she likes theater, she could possibly one day come back to Disney and play one of the princesses.
This was a beautiful and kind act that this person did not have to do. And, as if to prove she wasn’t just saying it in the course of her work, after she walked away I overheard her telling other guests about the 9 year old girl with the beautiful voice.
Michaela didn’t know what to say except “thank you.” And all I can say is the same. Moments like that are rare and beautiful and worth remembering.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” -Proverbs 18:21a
I am sure most of us can remember a time when words of death were spoken over us. Words that tore at your heart. Words that left scars and wounds that never quite heal.
And I hope most of us have received words of life from others, words like Michaela received from that Disney Cast Member this morning. Words that affirm your personhood. Words that tell you that you are loved and you are worthy of that love.
In our world it is commonplace to work hard at feeling better about ourselves. We do this because we are locked in a cycle that needs to be broken. Somewhere along the line we discovered it was easier to feel better about where we are in life if we cut down the lives of others. In other words, we can make ourselves seem more important by making others seem less important. We make ourselves appear taller by cutting others off at the knee.
The problem is, when we do that, we really aren’t getting what we desire, but rather the illusion of what we desire. All we accomplish with those tactics is speaking death into the lives of others and tarnishing our own souls.
The far better course is to take every opportunity to speak life to others. When we do that we accomplish so much more. When we do that we build others up, make them feel better, and heal their wounds, and in so doing we make ourselves better, and heal ourselves a bit as well.
Our tongue, our words, contain the power of life and death. Another way to view that is that our words contains the power of resurrection. We can raise our friends and neighbors and strangers from a place of death to new life.
The next time you are feeling a bit down about yourself (or even feeling fine about yourself) look for the chance, make the opportunity, to speak life into the life of someone. Friend. Neighbor. Or stranger. Use the power you have been given and transform mourning into dancing, sorrow into joy, and death into life.