This I Believe

Dee - Fortville, Indiana
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe

The moments that influence me the most often occur in tiny snapshots or something just within a singular sentence that sticks in my mind. These snapshots spin around in my mind until the time is right and I assimilate them into my life. Sometimes the light bulb will go off and instantly I get the lesson. Other times it can be a long process and take years for me to notice the burning bulb. When I am lucky a great moment can evolve over time into something bigger than first imagined.

A light bulb moment for me that happened instantly is when I read a magnet on my grandmother’s refrigerator when I was a small child. The magnet read, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I knew at once, even as young as I was, what it meant to be hurt by words. It was just a small step to understand that I could hurt others by what I say. Many times as an adult, I’ve dealt with people that, I must admit, bring this sentence to my mind. I would have a hard time trying to count the number of times I’ve relayed the lesson of that sentence to my children.

By the time I graduated college, I had learned a new way at looking at the early lesson. In college, a religion instructor taught us that it is not only important what you say, but also what you think. He would say, “What you think or dwell on will come to pass.” So now, the sentence has come to mean something new to me. I now think to myself, “If you can’t think something nice, then don’t think anything at all.”

As an adult and living in a small community, that sentence has again brought new lessons to my life. Being able to give back to your community is one of the greatest feelings of satisfaction a heart can imagine. I have learned that it is more important what we do than what we think or say. As an adult, that simple sentence from childhood came to mean, “If you can’t do something nice, then you aren’t doing anything at all.” We learn eventually that actions speak louder than words. We learn that people need us to show them by our actions how much we care, not just in thought or words.

I was fortunate to have a lesson learned as a young girl affect me my whole life. It happened in small snapshots over time and only contained one simple sentence taken from a refrigerator. The circumstances and lessons I learned at the time transformed into a realization of something even bigger than first imagined.