Yes, I am Twinkle Toes, or at least that was my dad's nickname for me, always spoken with affection. But in the quirky way of British humour, it actually meant the opposite, for my toes did not twinkle but tripped. I had a reputation that followed me into adulthood of being clumsy.
I don't say that it wasn't deserved. I have broken more plates, cups and glasses than the average person. But where my reputation and reality met or ended I never was quite sure. It always felt to me as if a self fulfilling prophesy had been spoken over me.
Along the way I resisted the rap and made up my mind that this Twinkling and Tripping was not me. I was really no more doomed to clumsiness than the next person. And, for the most part, I stopped dropping things.
Now I have the perfect mother, but since she is only human, she is allowed a weakness or two. She will never let me forget that I am Twinkle Toes. I have only to drop one thing and in spite of the fact that she is 82, has had a stroke and is not quite as quick in thought or speech as she once was, she remembers this, and with a knowing look, she will say something like, "There goes my Belinda," which I know means--well, not, "Belinda the graceful."
I quietly smile to myself (well, sometimes I smile) and determine to ignore the label, or else I know that I will be suffering from my own brand of dropsy in no time at all.
I say all of this really, to encourage thought about the power of words spoken over a child and even those long past childhood. I count myself blessed with a stubborness that withstood--and understood too. But how tempting it is to spot a trend and name it, and, as we do, bending a sapling in a certain way, all too quickly. I am sure I have done it unwittingly myself.
Lets say good words--prophesy signs of strength and good character as soon as we spot a glimmer of them: Gentleness, kindness, humility, generosity and compassion; unselfishness, persistence and patience; honesty. Children can grow up and into these qualities, as into shoes bought just a little too big, as mine always were.
Ephesians 4:29 (New Century Version)
29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.