When I was a young girl, the label "Second Hand" hadn't quite made it's popular entry into the smarter way to shop scene and rarely, if ever, was there a Resale Shop on every corner in every small town. "Second Hand" meant used, unwanted, previously owned and hand-me-down. It meant quite pointedly that it was simply 'not new.' I don't ever recall bragging to the kids who got brand new designer jeans and name brand sneakers for school that I scored my baggie corduroy overalls at the Smith's yard sale for a buck and a half. Second Hand came with an all too noticeable worn and weathered tag that most of us tried relentlessly to hide.
But, fast forward a century or three and Second Hand is all the rage. We slap a pretty label on it - refurbished, renewed, reupholstered, restored, repaired, remodeled, revamped - and call it "like new." Bargain shoppers from near and far boast about their repainted yard sale find with pride and pomp! Sellers flaunt how much they earned for their trash and buyers brag about the bargain and the deal of a lifetime on their new treasure. Second Hand is now First Rate.
And such it is with words. I just never realized quite how so until recently. Just last week I crossed paths with an old acquaintance. Not a friend, per se. Especially not after I had wronged her many years ago. I'd seen her a few times in passing but something was different this time. That something was me - specifically, Christ in me. I was so overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit to apologize to her for what I had done that panic nearly consumed me. I wrestled with God and said, "No, not here, not now. Not with all these other people around. How embarrassing." But, God said "Now."
I could barely speak her name as I stood in front of her. She looked just as surprised to see me standing there as I was to find myself beside her. I made my plea and told her I hoped she could forgive me. She was much more gracious than I deserved. And, though she did not specifically say she forgave me, I knew I would never be the same. Something happened in me at that moment - I grew a little stronger in myself and in my faith.
That would have been enough. The victory given me by Jesus Christ for my obedience would have been plenty. But as Christ often does, He did not stop there.
Three days later I was attending a local women's event, fighting off the anxiety I often have before speaking. A young woman approached me. I recognized her immediately as another old acquaintance and a friend to the woman I had just apologized to. That same familiar panic began to rise up but then I saw something in her eyes that shooed the anxious butterflies away.
She told me she had been there the other night when I apologized to her friend. She had heard every word I said. She said she thought that must have took an amazing amount of bravery and courage and that my act of apologizing had inspired her.
Words that were not meant for her. An apology, meant only for myself and the receiver was overheard - Second Hand. And, though I'll never know if my efforts were accomplished in the manner I had intended, they were used to influence someone who needed to know if I was the person who I now say that I am. My apology, that may or may not have been unwanted by the receiver, was scooped up, refurbished, restored and renewed and it was turned it into someone else's treasure.
My Second Hand Sorry had made a First Rate impression.
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. . . . Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 16:24; 12:18)