Johnny had just been scolded by his mother, and sent to his room. He muttered “I hate you,” as he slammed the bedroom door, and his grandfather heard it. With Mom’s permission Gramps loaded Johnny into the car and headed to the country. He took the lad by the hand and walked out onto a hand bridge looking over the valley. “Listen,” he said as he shouted “I love you.” The little boy listened intently as the echo came back: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“Now you shout what you said to your mother,” Gramps told him. Johnny hung his head and shook it. “I don’t want to.” “But I want you to, so yell it out,” Gramps said.
Finally Johnny half yelled, “I hate you.” and back came the echo, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”
“Don’t you wish you could get that back?” Gramps said as he yelled again, “I love you,” and stood watching his grandson as the echo answered, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Then from somewhere across the valley a woman’s voice called out “I love you too,” followed by the echo, “I love you too, I love you too.”
Gramps had no idea where that came from, but it made the lesson even better. “Which echo did you like best Johnny, mine or yours?”
“Neither,” came the response. “I liked hers,” he said pointing off in the distance.
“Do you think she heard your echo?” Gramps asked. “I hope not,” the boy answered.
“But do you think she did?” Gramps persisted.
“Yeh, she probably did.”
“How do you think she felt when she heard you?” Gramps asked.
“Not very good”
“How did you feel when you heard her?”
Looking up at his grandfather with tears in his eyes he replied, “Much better. Can we go home now? I need to erase the echo I sent to my Mom.”
“But that’s impossible,” Gramps countered.
“Yeh but I can give her a better one,” Johnny said as he ran for the car.
Who the woman was who answered “I love you too,” is not important, but the fact that she heard two echoes; and chose to respond only to the one which said “I love you,” is.
We hear echoes all day long, some good, some bad, some which we hear firsthand and some which have been repeated over and over again. We can’t change what we hear, but we can choose which echoes we wish to answer and how we will respond to them. We must also be aware that our responses generate echoes which are heard and repeated over and over again. Nearly everything we say or do, can have a good or bad affect on the ones to whom we speak and also on those who hear the echoes.
There was a woman who was really badmouthing her pastor to one of her friends, who was very ill. To make it worse, there were several others in the room at the time. I later asked her why she was doing that to a woman who did not need more grief. Then I said to her. “How do you know that this pastor isn’t the one who will be used by God to bring peace and healing into your friend’s life? Do you want to destroy that ministry?” I also strongly suggested that it might be a good thing for her to air her grievances with her pastor, to her pastor. As a postscript I added, “And what about the others who heard you? Did it ever occur to you that this pastor might be a vessel sent to minister to them too?”
We need to be careful what kind of echoes we send out, and the best way to keep from producing bad echoes is to not start them in the first place. However, if you do send out some bad ones, don’t try to erase them, because that is impossible. Just do everything in your power to replace them with better ones.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
Chaplain Fred Jeans
Kenilworth Care And Rehab