When we were in the military, I got really good at goodbyes. Not because they got easier, but because I got better. When I was still a rookie at the constant string of goodbyes, I wouldn’t allow myself to feel their sting. Frankly, there’s a good chance I just pretended I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d see someone and they’d get a casual, “See ya!” By the time my husband retired, I was wiser—and realized just how much I wanted people to know what they meant to me.
As I said goodbye to the coach at my gym, I started crying and had a hard time telling him just how much that community meant to me. He shook his head and said, “I know”—letting me know that I didn’t have to finish. But I shook my head and said, “No. I promised myself I’d say it.”
Maybe it’s just the wisdom of getting older, but I’m realizing that “promise yourself you’ll say it” is for more than just goodbyes.
Promise yourself you’ll say the good.
Pay multiple compliments, show your appreciation, and text some encouragement. Let others know what they mean to you. Hug freely. Say thank you.
You know what else? Say the good about the things you lack. As you look at other people’s lives and gifts, it’s easy to get jealous, isn’t it? They have their act together, they go on great vacations, they sing better, weigh less, age more gracefully, speak more kindly. Instead of breaking the commandment about coveting, turn your potential jealousy into praise. Tell them how you see God blessing them. Share how you see him working in their lives. God gives gifts as he decides—not based at all on how you think they should be given—all for the good of the kingdom and for his glory. Praise God that he follows his plan, not yours.
Promise yourself you’ll say the hard.
Life is hard. As much as I’d love to wear rose-colored glasses and tra-la-la my way through the day, that’s not realistic. There will be conflict. Demonstrations and riots remind us that we need to speak out against evil. Healthy relationships also require hard conversations. If you’re struggling with someone close to you, let him or her know. If you see a fellow believer in Jesus making life choices that aren’t compatible with his will, put the friend above the friendship and talk to that person. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1,2).
Don’t just say the hard things about others. Say the hard things about yourself. Are you hurting? lonely? not feeling well? God has given others the same command he’s given you: to carry each other’s burdens. Reach out and ask for help. Let a trusted friend know you’re struggling, and let him or her fulfill the law of Christ.
Promise yourself you’ll say the reason for the hope that you have.
Most of all, promise yourself you’ll say it when it comes to Jesus. Talk about the hope you have even in the middle of unimaginable situations. When God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers and there seems no hope in sight, say why you have a sure foundation. When you’ve completely messed up your life, say that the blood of Jesus purifies you—and that he’s paid for the sins of the world. Say why you believe each life is precious. And say why, as much as you love this life, you’re really more excited to go to your heavenly home.
Promise yourself you’ll say it.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. Most of the time, saying the hard stuff makes her cry. But she’s getting a little better at that.