December 02, 2022

Scripture: Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24 ESV

As all teachers with kids and teachers’ kids know, existing in the same building day in and day out has its perks–and drawbacks. I currently attend school each day with my 7th grader, Adam, and my 10th grader, Abby. Last week I was walking in the hallway next to a seventh grader named Will whom I had just met. Another student nearby quickly added to the introduction that I was Adam’s mom.

Will took that news in for a beat. “Adam’s not nice to me,” he said. His voice was gentle but factual.
Great. My heart dropped.

“Well,” he amended slowly, “it’s not that he’s ever done anything to me. It’s just that…”

As Will searched thoughtfully for the right wording, I began to rearrange my parenting fails so there would be room to add one more.

“It’s just that he never even talks to me. He makes me feel…a pause…like I’m outside of the box.”

Oh, sweet little one, I wanted to say. How often I myself feel outside of the box: in the lounge, after a series-of-unfortunate-events lesson, at the staff social.

“I’m going to talk to him,” I reassured my new acquaintance, and we parted ways.

Early in my teaching career, a veteran teacher brought a handful of small cards to our weekly prayer group. She handed them out at random, and mine read, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’” These words, attributed to the founder of Mary Kay, are now faded on the bulletin board in my laundry room. How often do we as Christians forget to do the very action that cosmetic representatives know by heart?

As Christ followers, what a privilege we have to encourage those around us!

Prayer: Lord, help us to speak gracious words that bring sweetness to the soul and health to the body of those whose paths we cross today. Make us diligent to show them that they are seen, fearfully and wonderfully made, and worthy of being “inside the box.” Amen

Copyright Kristi Shanenko  To connect with the author, email

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Walking in the Opposite Spirit

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