How Does Your Conversation Taste?

by Lyneta Smith

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 NIV

I don’t know anyone who enjoys being crammed into a big metal tube in the sky.

Traveling from North Carolina to Pullman, Washington, is an all-day endeavor. Last time I took that trip, I stopped for two layovers. Since I traveled by myself, I decided to splurge on first-class tickets. I had no idea what to expect besides a bit more comfort.

At the tail end of the pandemic, airlines struggled. Delays and cancellations were the norm rather than the exception, and my first flight took off over an hour late. I worried about missing my connection. When we landed, I had fifteen minutes to sprint across a huge airport, only to find another delay.

Once onboard that second flight, I sat in my front-row seat next to a well-dressed man, who grumbled with other boarding passengers about the delay and the airline. I silently prayed I’d make my next connection, and for the poor flight attendant, whose job I did not envy. As the men around me continued to gripe, I considered asking if I could move to a more comfortable place, perhaps between two crying babies in coach.

Halfway through the flight, my seatmate stopped carping about the airline and began to tell me all about his Important Job as an evangelist, one who’d shared the gospel all around the world—even in Africa. (Everyone knows all the extra spiritual people do mission work in Africa.)

I gave polite answers and didn’t work to engage him in any more conversation than I had to. After a week-long conference, I had a hard time thinking of polite things to say.

When we landed, I followed my disgruntled seatmate up the ramp and scooted around him for another sprint across the airport. Though I soon found there was no need to worry since my third flight was also delayed.

After we finally boarded, the flight crew prepared to leave and, to my relief, shut the doors. I’d heard many times that once the doors are closed no late passengers can board. But this is not always true. A huge group arrived late on another flight and the airline asked our captain to wait for them. So, the doors opened again, and we waited some more. I braced myself for another flight full of disgruntled first-class passengers.

But the grumbling never happened. I listened to pleasant conversation around me while the flight attendants served beverages. After forty-five minutes, the first of about 20 passengers from another flight boarded. They all sported tans and wore straw hats and shorts or sundresses. A burst of applause erupted in first class.

Weary tropical-island travelers smiled as they passed through the aisle, saying, “Thank you for your patience.”

“Glad you made it,” replied someone across the aisle from me.

It would have been easy to gripe about flight schedules and how it must be nice to take a luxurious vacation. But instead, we greeted our late coming fellow passengers with a warm welcome. We were all in this big tube in the sky together, after all.

Two flights, two distinct flavors.

Jesus explained that a good tree is recognized by its fruit, and likewise, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him (Matthew 12:33, 35 NIV). We have it in our power to affect the taste we leave in others’ mouths by seasoning our words. Gratitude rather than grumbling. Grace rather than grouchiness.

Paul spoke to all of us who follow Christ, saying, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

When we choose grace, we make a palatable impression on an often-bitter world.

About the author: Lyneta Smith is the author of Curtain Call: A Memoir and several other stories and articles in publications such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, Heart Renovation, Clubhouse, Jr., Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and Living Light News. She and her husband are happy empty-nesters who live in Middle Tennessee. When she’s not writing or editing for clients, you can find her playing with her sweet grandsons or down at the local coffee shop chatting with friends. 

Join the conversation: Have you ever had the chance to season a conversation with grace? What was the response?

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