In all the years since Debbie left L.A. to move to Denver, I never told her how the five words she taught me changed my life. Twenty years flew over us like a streak in the inky sky before I thought to thank her for those five words.When we moved into a beautiful new home, she said them. When my kids got awards, my husband got a new job, and I had my first paying article published, she spoke them. Even when I received things other friends might have been jealous of, Debbie never withheld those five precious words.
She didn’t realize how she was changing my thinking, helping me become a better friend, and grow from selfish to joyful with her five words.
You have probably guessed by now what they are:
I’m so happy for you.
(I know, all you English majors, that I’m is a contraction, and thus equals two words. But don’t you think Five Words that Can Change Your Life sounds snappier than Six Words that Can Change Your Life? So, you’ll just have to forgive me.)
The element I loved most when Debbie spoke these five words was that I knew she meant them. Because of her sincerity, those words changed the way I relate to others when they receive blessings. Debbie’s words made me realize how soul-nourishing it is to have someone rejoice with you when you rejoice, rather than feeling envious of the goodness coming your way.
Because if I’m brutally honest, I must confess that it’s easier for me to “weep with those who weep” than it is to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” I can take your hand and cry with you if you’re crying. But to say, “Wow, that’s marvelous!” when you’re doing the Snoopy dance, takes maturity. And to dance with you takes unselfish love. Especially when you just received something I’ve wanted for years.
When I’ve pushed aside my immature thoughts and chosen to act in love, I’ve discovered a joy that runs deep. If I can sincerely share in your blessings, my heart grows two sizes. I go from Grinchy to Gracious.
So, whether I change your life or not by saying, “I’m happy for you,” it’s worth the change in me.What words have changed your life or thinking? Have you thanked the person who spoke them to you?
P.S. I will be offline for the next ten days, visiting my mom in CA. Please pray that my words to her will add grace to her life.