“It’s an old saying,” Mama said, her voice coming over the line this morning; ” But I was reminded of it again last month when Daddy and I were on the way to the hospital during his second round of sepsis. He was reacting badly to the antibiotics, and they had shown us the list of possible medicines that might help. That list was dwindling and we knew that if they couldn’t find another antibiotic, we were sunk. We had about an hour to wait before we could go into the hospital and find out. So we sat in the car and held hands and cried. He told me some things he wanted me to know, plans, and sweet words, and I told him some things that I love about him. Life is too short to make big deals out of little things. Y’just thank God that you have someone to pick up after, and if you’re going to make a big deal out of something, it had better be something really big. It’s so much more important, instead, to spend our time and words telling the people in our life what they mean to us, what we love about them. Give them their roses, and give them real roses too! Shoot! I’d rather have mine while I’m alive than when I’m out cold and they won’t mean a thing to me!…My family might enjoy them,” she pondered, “but I wouldn’t care a thing then.”
Several years ago, Mama was encouraging me in the art of Giving Out Roses. Roses of our words – admiration, encouragement. Roses of thankfulness and affirmation. Not flattery, because that’s no good. Does nothing to bolster the soul. But true affection and respect, true words of solid encouragement that reflect the effect that those people have had in your life are always worth giving. Our pathways are showered with experiences, people, words. Some of them hurt, but some of them shape us beautifully. They affect the way we think and treat others; they inspire us to bloom to full potential, like God intended. We are shy little shoots, all of us, needing the sunshine of kindness and goodness that others have to offer, so that we can take heart, and reach beyond the comfort zone of our curled up buds. The loveliness of it all, is that we are extensions of God’s own love, His own warmth, and we are reflecting the joy He has for His children to those to whom we hand roses. It’s not a one time thing, either. We wither swiftly amid the heat of hardship and doubt and someone seeing the admirable in us and pointing it out will always be a shot in the arm. It’s part of our camaraderie as humans, but more so as Christians, to look for the gifts and strengths in others and tell them of it. Tell them how they’ve influenced you. So many people shape our lives and form our ideas and dreams. As a young girl, the whole of my existence seemed for a season that of simply Soaking Up. Soaking up what it means to be a lady, how to fix hair, dress, how to interact with boys and girls you felt intimidated by. How to paint nails, iron a man’s shirt and pants without creasing it wrong or burning a hole in it; how to cook, deep clean, expand vocabulary, fold that bothersome bottom sheet (still struggling), how to walk, talk, sort through all the changes and decisions of what sort of person you should envision being and shoot for. So many ladies reached out to me – girls my own age, girls older than me, and women who were adept housewives took time to speak encouragement to me. Those women still impact me today.
All that to say, “shower the people you love with love”. Husband, brother, sister, Mama, grandmama, sweet ole gal in the post office who’s feet you know are hurting, but still smiles at you. Your kids, or the kids at church, your brothers and sisters. You are shaping lives, impacting, leaving a force that will either build up or tear down. I’m guilty of one and striving toward the other. But I dare say, there’s someone we can show kindness to, bolster with our words. They’re powerful things, words. They can be swords or roses. Let’s say the things we’ll wish we had said if they weren’t here, leave nothing to regret not telling them. Let’s just give’m their roses while they live, y’all.