It was Maya Angelou, the American poet, actress, and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, who once said this…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That’s a huge challenge in our ‘speak first’ – or should I say ‘type first’ – think later culture!
One of the many things that strike me about Jesus is the way he made people feel – particularly broken, fragile, outcast people.

Somehow, despite the fact that he would still challenge their behaviour and point to a better way of living, he never left them feeling rejected.

In fact the very opposite. They always felt better having been with him.

Think of the Samaritan woman that Jesus meets by a well in John 4. She’s getting water during the hottest time of the day because she knows that no other women in her village want to associate with her. Why? Because she’s been divorced 5 times and now she’s with someone who’s not her husband.

But Jesus stops to spend time with her. This was a radical action for a Jewish man to do such a thing with a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that! Not only that, he makes it clear that he knows both her troubling backstory and present situation.

And yet, despite the fact that she’s been rumbled and all of her skeletons have fallen out of her closet, she returns to the village with joy She does not feel judged or condemned. She is known. She is loved. And it changes her. And she changes her village as a result.

I think this is what Maya was expressing. Jesus said and did some amazing things for sure, but his priority was to change people’s hearts. How they felt and what they thought about themselves, about life – about God.

I wonder what it would look like if all of us had that resolve. That our time with people made them feel better, more joyful, hope-filled, more known, more cared for – and most important of all, more loved.

In his book entitled ‘Integrity’ – author Henry Cloud talks about our lives being like a boat. You can tell a lot about a boat from what happens with the wake it leaves behind. The wake reveals the size and speed of the boat and the manner with which it was being driven. You get the idea!

And so it’s true for all of us…

People can tell a lot about us from the wake we leave behind.

Do we leave people feeling hurt, rejected, angry, unloved, OR do we leave them feeling known and loved?

May these words from Paul in Colossians 3:12-14 be the reality of your wake…

God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.

May God help the wake of our lives be people who are built up, not blown up.