Life Sentences

Life Sentences

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I’m reflecting today on people who have impacted my life by a single sentence—words of truth or compassion or wisdom spoken or written at just the right time. I remember…

My high school ex-boyfriend—the one I’d broken up with six weeks earlier out of pure selfishness—who came to the door an hour after hearing my father had died and said, “No matter what happens between us after this, I’m here for you now.” (I married that man.)

The spirit-filled woman who prayed over me in a season when I was almost paralyzed by fear: “Who do you need to forgive?” she asked. I sobbed as the answer came from deep in my wounded soul.

The nurse who held my hand in the ER as my blood pressure dropped so low it couldn’t be measured. When I asked if she thought I was going to make it, she gripped me in a fierce gaze and said with absolute conviction, “I KNOW you’re going to make it.”

After a miscarriage, after others had clumsily tried to encourage with words like “You’re still young” or “Aren’t you glad you don’t have morning sickness anymore?” a sweet nurse who’d experienced pregnancy loss herself sat down next to me and simply said, “It hurts, doesn’t it?”

The friend who sat me down on her couch and put a blanket over my lap the day after my sister-in-law was killed in a car accident: “I’ll fix you a cup of tea.”

Dozens of friends and strangers who have heard about my son’s illness and have said the only words that really matter: “I’m praying for him.”

If you’re like me, there are times when you wonder if you’re being effective for God, if you’re doing enough. I’m pretty sure none of these people knew their words were life-giving sentences that would leave an indelible mark on my life. Who would think that saying “I’ll fix you a cup of tea” or “It hurts, doesn’t it?” could leave such an impact? They were simply saying the thing they needed to say at the time. And isn’t that what we’re called to do? Be ready to offer words of encouragement, empathy, wisdom, or grace when needed?

I want to be someone who doesn’t ignore the Holy Spirit nudges urging me to send a card, make a call, take time for a visit. I want to serve a life sentence of speaking life sentences. Don’t you?


Becky Melby About Becky Melby

Wisconsin resident Becky Melby is the author of the Lost Sanctuary Series and a dozen other contemporary fiction titles. Married for 43 years, mother of four, grandmother to fifteen, Becky thrives on writing, reading, camping, rides on the back of a silver Gold Wing, and time with family. Connect with her at her website or Facebook.


  1. Bettilu Davies says:

    Becky, you are always an encouragement to me.

  2. What wonderful, encouraging words and what a blessing to your life that you have the memories of those sentences.

    • Thank you, Barbara. It’s easy to let the words that helped us through a particular season slip away. I think it’s important to archive them–in writing or in our minds–because we may need them again some day!

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