In Pastor Jeff's Blog

WordsPleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. – Proverbs 16:24

Jeremy had always been a little withdrawn and shy, and because was he tall and skinny he was an easy and frequent target for teasing through elementary and middle school. By the time Jeremy got into high school he had nearly perfected the art of being invisible. He walked into school every morning and went to his locker. Despite the fact that he was surrounded by hundreds of students, no one said a word to Jeremy. Jeremy walked into each class and sat in the back corner, and no one noticed. Every day Jeremy knew exactly where he would sit at lunch…at the empty table, alone.

By the time Jeremy was a sophomore the pain of feeling so alone, so unloved became more than Jeremy could bear. Jeremy decided that he just couldn’t stand it anymore. He didn’t want to live any longer. And so he made a plan to end his own life, a plan he would carry out when he came home from school on Friday.

On Friday morning Jeremy went to school just like any other day. We walked into the building and went to his locker…and no one said a word to him. No one seemed to notice. He went to his classes and sat in the back corner, and no one said a word to him. No one seemed to notice. At lunch he sat at the empty table, and no one said a word to him. No one seemed to notice. When he left his last class for the day he went back to his locker to put away his books for the last time, and as he did something extraordinary happened: a girl named Lindsey walked alongside Jeremy and simply said, “Hi Jeremy. Have a great weekend.”

What Jeremy didn’t know is that the previous Wednesday night Lindsey had been at her church’s youth group and the topic that night was reaching out to the outcast, just as Jesus had done. The youth group leader had challenged every student that night to let the Holy Spirit point out to them someone that no one seems to notice and simply say hello to them. As Lindsey walked down that hallway on that Friday Lindsey saw Jeremy and felt the nudge. And so Lindsey said hello. That’s all. Nothing more. No big deal, right?

But what Lindsey didn’t know is that Jeremy fully intended to go home that afternoon and take his own life. But he didn’t. Something changed in that one moment when Lindsey came alongside him, said hello and told him to have a great weekend. With those simple words Lindsey communicated that someone noticed, that someone cared. And that was enough love and enough hope for Jeremy that day.

You may never know the profound power of the words you speak, but make no mistake – your simple words of encouragement, affirmation, reconciliation and love have power to raise people to newness of life.

Jeff Marian is the Lead Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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