When you were a child and wanted something, did an adult ever say “What’s the magic words?” Then as you happily held your prized possession. For some reason, it always annoyed me when an adult would ask for “the magic words.” I knew the magic words were “please” and “thank you,” but my inner sassy side always wanted to say “abracadabra,” “open sesame,” or “ala peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!” (Someone leave a comment if you know where it’s from! I’m sure I can “Count” on someone to know.) While calling please and thank you “magic words” is a way of teaching manners to a child, I’m convinced they truly are words with magical effects. They show people you care, and Jesus loves them. My mom is someone I learned this from by watching her example.
I have always loved Niagara Falls and have family who live near Buffalo, New York, not too far from Niagara Falls. So, I have quite a few memories of those amazing waterfalls. While I have many wonderful memories from there, one has absolutely nothing to do with the beauty of nature.
(Just a little side note and word of warning. The Falls are beautiful in winter, but be VERY careful. “Someone” was leaning against the low wall covered in ice as she was enjoying the beauty. She may have frozen her jeans to the ice-covered wall. She will assure you it was painful to say the least. Now, back to the regularly scheduled story.)
In May of 2001, my parents and I took a spent a long weekend in Buffalo and at Niagara Falls. One evening my mom and I were inside Table Rock Centre on the Canadian side of the Falls. It’s almost like a central hub right at the top of the falls. There is everything from an excellent view of the falls, food, souvenirs, a place to see Niagara Falls from tunnels behind them, and perhaps one of the most important thing, bathrooms. This was your average day where thousands of women and children were in and out of this one large bathroom. Most were in a hurry, and many had wet feet from the “Journey Behind the Falls.” (I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance.) Of course, there was a line, but something stood out to me. This place was pristine.
There was a reason this place was so clean in spite of how busy it was. It was because of one woman, whose name I’ll never know. She stood alone, back against the wall observing tiny details. She was doing a job not many of us would want. There was never a lack of toilet paper, there was always soap, the floor was clean, and the garbage was never even close to overflowing. Most people didn’t see what she did. They simply didn’t see a mess. Maybe even worse, no one saw HER, a woman with shoulder length sandy blond hair in her 50’s wearing a light pink shirt and golden wire frame glasses, whose work was being taken for granted. While she was overlooked, she didn’t miss a single detail. The only time someone spoke to her was to let her know about a mess they made.
I’m reminded of the time Jesus preformed life changing miracles but received little thanks.
Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 12:11-18 (NET)
Jesus knew what it was like to do something and go unnoticed.
After washing my hands, and applying another coat of pink lip gloss, I had one thing left to do. On my way out, I said “thank you” to the hard-working woman. In that moment, her brown eyes sparkled, and her smile looked better than mine ever could, even with my freshly applied lip gloss. I found my dad outside by the falls, and a few minutes later my mom joined us. At the same time, my mom and I turned to each other and said, “I have to tell you something! Did you see the women in the restroom?” We both started to laugh. It turns out without knowing what the other had done, we both thanked her. We will never forget the look on her face.
A simple, heartfelt “thank you” changes people.
I often talk about A Jesus Moment. It’s looking for good in every situation, because those good moments are God showing us how much He loves us. Sometimes, it’s up to us to give A Jesus Moment to someone else. Often you’ll get one in return. The woman’s smile is something I’ll never forget.
There’s more to this story. (Did you really think that was the end?) Several months later, we made a return trip to Niagara Falls. This time with two of my closest friends. (I’m still amazed my mother didn’t leave us in Canada. That’s for another blog though. For the record, our three-part harmony to every single song on the radio was amazing! Our acapella singing was even better.) It was a hot July day and, as usual, the bathroom was packed at Table Rock Centre. From May to July, hundreds of thousands of people made their way through that bathroom. My mom and I were just two more people in the crowd, or so we thought. This time someone saw us. As we waited in line, we both saw a woman smiling from ear to ear and waving at us. It was her. The kind, hard working woman remembered us! (I’m crying as I type this.) The beauty of Niagara Falls cannot compare to the beauty of that moment. She gave us both A Jesus Moment. I never realized how much power I had.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)
A consequence isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a simply the result of something we do or say. That day I realized the power of life I could bring with my words.
I have challenge for you and myself this week. Keep your eyes out for someone who may be overlooked, and say “thank you,” or give a genuine compliment. We have the power to speak life to someone, so let’s do it!
One act of kindness has more power than we can imagine.
Maybe the cliché I used to find so annoying is actually true. Saying “thank you” does seem to have special powers to bring joy and life to people.
I enjoy hearing from you. Leave a comment letting me know if you ever received an unexpected “thank you,” or what happened when you thanked someone else.
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