Relationships; foundation of much of our personal joy, laughter, energy, and sometimes sorrow. As much as I genuinely care about my relationships, I have to admit sometimes I am pitiful at honoring my relationships and generously investing in them as I should, so they will be nurtured and grow like a watered seed spreading through the soil. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder why I act so abruptly in a situation and then I remember the story.

In his book, ” Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” the late Dr. Stephen Covey writes the following story. Stephen is a business leader and an executive travelling on the New York City subway to a business engagement. He is a quiet, centered, buttoned down guy, just enjoying perusing the paper before he arrives at his destination. At one of the stops, a man boards with his young children, who are fidgeting, getting rather loud, and causing a disturbing ruckus. After several minutes, Stephen feels his ears getting red and simply says, “Excuse me, sir. Is it too much to ask that you try to quiet down your children?” The man slowly turned to Stephen and with swollen eyes and said, “I guess I should, but you see, we just left the hospital and my wife just passed away. The kids don’t know how to handle it and quite honestly, neither do I.” At that moment, Stephen wished he could shrink down into his dress shoes.

A reminder here for me that perhaps I need to be less critical of other people’s behaviors or motives. Maybe I just need to press pause because if they are reacting to me in a way I feel may be unkind, perhaps they are just going through a difficult struggle. How would I know? Maybe I need to defer on the side of grace. If someone is being abrupt with me, maybe they are going through a sorrowful heartbreak I don’t even know about. We all make judgments, sometimes appropriately so, but this is a reminder for me to step back, take a deep breath, and press pause before responding. My words have power, as do yours, and I always want to speak soothing silk words versus words that break down and destroy that perhaps would not be appropriate had I known the struggle they were going through.

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