I Remember These Conversations

coffee_cup.jpgThe other day, I posted regarding the all important atmosphere that exists in homes.  (You can read it here.)

But what about the words that are exchanged every day in our conversations with family members, co-workers, people from our church, and others who we know in our communities?  What kind of words and scenes are etched in our memories?

Sometimes, I am amazed at the things that I remember.  The other night, I was watching a portion of a program on the History Channel about Martin Luther King Jr’s  assassination.  As I watched some of those old black and white news footages, I could recall sitting in den of our home in Dallas watching television.  It was April 4, 1968 and I was fifteen years old.  It was a Thursday evening.  My mother had gone to the grocery store (the Safe-way store on Buckner Blvd. in Dallas) to buy groceries, as she did every Thursday evening.   What I remember about that night is being glued to the television, watching those horrible scenes from Memphis.  I can even remember my mother coming into our house carrying some groceries and telling her about the shooting of MLK Jr.

I don’t know exactly why I remember this in such detail.  I just know this was a powerful moment and I had seen some pictures that I would not forget.

Each one of us also has scenes and moments with our family and friends etched in our memories.  Perhaps you can remember some conversations that were painful, embarrassing, etc.  Many of us have a few of those conversations in our memories.

However, I also remember some moments in which conversations took place that were particularly encouraging.  For example,I recall these moments:

  • Coach Hugh Campbell telling me as a junior in high school that I would have plenty of opportunities in my life to do things like buy a car, etc. but there were some things I would only have the opportunity to do once.  That one statement proved to be very encouraging to me.  Repeatedly, through the years, I have pondered regarding a situation or opportunity:  "Is this a one time kind of thing or will I have other opportunities to do this?"  The statement was encouraging in that it helped me in wrestling with various decisions.  (Yes, there are numerous other factors to consider when making a decision.  I am just talking about one statement that helped a fifteen year old boy.)
  • Charlotte’s father, Charles Coil, who on one occasion, as I was wrestling with where to go to graduate school, said, "Jim, I really believe you can do most anything with your life.  You may choose to go to medical school or law school.  Or, you may choose to continue your education in the Bible."  I was stunned by his words.  I thought at first that he was saying such things just to build my confidence.  Later on I realized that he really believed what he said.  I was amazed at the confidence that he had in me.
  • My wife Charlotte who has pointed out good things in my life and ministry all of our married life.  My blunders and mistakes are all too apparent to me.  Yet, she regularly points out most every good thing she sees about me.  More than anyone else, she has been responsible for building my confidence. 

This is just a sample of some people who have invested in my life in positive, encouraging ways through their words.  Their words and their encouragement are in my memory and have had a powerful effect on my life.

As I think about this week, I want to make the most of the conversations that I have with people.  Who knows how God will use an encouraging word?  A simple conversation might be remembered for weeks and even years to come.  Who knows the impact that an affirming, encouraging remark might have one someone?  God just has a way of taking what might seem like an ordinary conversation and turning it into something that gives life and courage to someone.

What conversation do you recall that proved to be highly significant and encouraging? 

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10 thoughts on “I Remember These Conversations

  1. I love this question!  I thought about it for a while.  Here is one that will always stick with me…
    When I was a sophomore in college, I decided to take a literature class from a legend at Baylor.  She was famously (or infamously?) demanding, but I loved poetry and wanted to say I took Ms. Miller’s class.
    Well, I studied for the first test and was deflated after receiving a D.  I couldn’t believe it.  There were only two tests left.  I dedicated myself to studying even harder for the next test.  I felt good about it, but sweated on the way to class the day the tests were handed out.  There I sat in the lecture hall in front of Ms. Miller, tests in hand.  After everyone was seated, she walked over to my area in the classroom, pointed at me, steely eyed and said, "Miss Robinson, you made a 99 on my test, and I am so proud of you."
    I was stunned, and elated!  After that, there was nothing I wouldn’t do for that woman.  I wound up making an A on her final and ultimately making an A in the class.  I have never worked so hard for anything in my life!
    I think that incident taught me to try and compliment people not just one on one, but around other people.  That was 12 1/2 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

  2. I believe that these moments are created when words and feelings come together in significant times.  Sometimes words fly by, but with the right moment they sink deeply in.

  3. I just had an experience last night where one of our elders thanked me for sharing with him in conversation and then proceeded to tell me how when we talk he always feels blessed. Wow.  Sometimes, it doesn’t have to even be about life advice it can just be having someone whose language is filled with authentic blessing.

  4. Some of the best compliments come second-handed.  For example, I recently substituted for the regular teacher of the Single Parents class at church when she had to be out of town.  Later, the teacher called to tell me specific nice things those in the class had said about class and about me.  Very uplifting!

  5. Many years ago my father-in-law sent a cassette tape sharing his deep fear that I’d left the "straight and narrow" and had become too liberal in my views (meaning "issues" to him). I sent him a letter and for a long time there was a very definite "distance" between us. While visiting in Florence one weekend (I was doing a weekend seminar at Creekside which he considered a less than faithful church) and he was in the hospital. I went by to visit him … just the two of us and it was a very uncomfortable visit until just before I left. He told me, "Greg, we may not always agree on everything but you are my son and I will always love you." Those words gave me renewed life and we had a great relationship from that day until he died.

  6. Elizabeth,Thank you for telling this wonderful story.   I suspect you will treasure her words for many, many years.What a wonderful, valuable experience that began with a discouraging grade and ended with your professor’s affirmation.I enjoyed reading this. 

  7. Arlene,I like this phrase in your remarks regarding the conversation you had:. . . whose language is filled with authentic blessing.Now that is something I would like to embody in my own conversations with others.

  8. Thank you Connie.  It is encouraging to get that kind of second-hand feedback.  Glad that teacher passed it on to you.

  9. Greg,A great story.  Your father-in-law’s words to you speaks volumes about his character.  How encouraging.