As soon as I saw her, I was flooded with memories of my own youth group: sitting alone, off to the side, wishing I was brave enough to join the others. My heart broke for her as I went to talk with her. Slowly, she let her guard down, emerged from her shell and began to talk more openly. She went from quiet and distant to beaming and engaged.
Throughout our week in Nova Scotia, she came to spend time with us. We simply loved and encouraged her and invited her to participate in what we were doing. Not thinking twice about my word choice, every time I saw her I greeted her with the phrase “Hi, Beautiful!” After I arrived home, she sent me a note: “Today I looked at myself in the mirror and actually thought, I am beautiful. God really does love me and who I am.” I started crying as I realized what God had done. Even though I had no idea of the power of my words, God had breathed on them to show this young woman her real value and worth.
In the months since my mission trip, we have stayed in contact, and it has been amazing to watch her continue to grow in confidence and joy. She has gone on multiple missions trips with her church, put playful colors in her hair, and stepped up to help at youth group. Sometimes, loving people in the smallest ways can make the biggest difference. Even something as minor as “Hi, Beautiful!” can change someone’s life when God is behind it.