Fighting Scarcity, One Compliment at a Time



She walked the power walk that only women who have mastered sloped pavement and four-inch heels can walk. Black cigarette pants and a blazer the hottest shade of hot pink. Her long hair was catching the sunlight and the wind all at once.

She was all the things I am not and she was glorious.

I marveled at this beautiful stranger marching up the sidewalk. We made eye contact and I announced, “You look amazing.”

She didn’t even pause before she was responding, “Thanks, I love your hair.”

Neither of us slowed our pace. The whole exchange took less than 30 seconds.

This is not unusual in my world. I do this at least a dozen times every week. It started years ago as a response to a requirement to do “street evangelism.”

I was living in New Orleans and working with a missions organization gutting houses after Hurricane Katrina. When Mardi Gras rolled around, the volunteers came to evangelize rather than tear out moldy drywall. Every evening that week groups of two and three college kids walked the streets of the French Quarter asking drunk strangers if they “knew Jesus.”

I was 21 and adorably naïve, but even I couldn’t get behind this. It didn’t feel authentic.

Instead I just chitchatted with anyone and everyone. I drew maps of the French Quarter on napkins and offered tips for cheap restaurants and listened to a whole lot of drunk stories.

Then, on the last day, I saw this stunning woman on the ferry. Her hair belonged in a shampoo commercial. The words were tumbling out before I could stop them, “This is weird, but your hair is gorgeous. More people should be telling you this.”

She grinned and told me she inherited her great hair from her mother in Venezuela. We spent the rest of the ride talking.

That single awkward moment on the ferry was the most spiritual part of my whole week. It wasn’t grand or dramatic. It didn’t bring anyone to Jesus. And maybe the shampoo commercial Venezuelan woman didn’t ever think about it again. But for me it was a beacon—a reminder to see people.

That day I decided I would let more women know the kind and quirky things I think about them.

It takes a brave kind of insanity to walk around the world grinning at strangers and telling them their green pants are cool and their big hair is stunning and that they have the kindest smile you have ever seen. But why the heck not?

Forget everything you watch on sitcoms. Forget the insecurity of junior high. This idea that women are jealous and unnecessarily competitive is done. We are done with that. There is room for all of us.

Sarah Joslyn
I’m more likely to answer to Sars than Sarah. That’s because years ago my brothers started calling me Sars and, as the name implies, it was infectious. I’m a self-proclaimed writer-photographer-Jesuslover-painter-adventurer-foodie. I have a near obsession with ending injustice and I’m a sucker for a good cause. I blog about life and building a tiny house at
Sarah Joslyn
Sarah Joslyn

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  1. pastordt says:

    ABSOLUTELY love this. Thank you, Sarah, for being brave and winsome and kind. And for encouraging us to be those things, too.

  2. I love this, Sarah! I love your openness to the world around you – and all those who inhabit it! You bring such brightness and goodness wherever you go!

  3. Saskia Wishart says:

    Someone once said to me, if you think a compliment – you should say it out loud, because we get enough negativity in our lives and we often don’t hear the positives. It was a little skill I used in the red light, to find the beauty instead of taking power positions. I do love how you have explained how to counter just that, those supposed power battles, in a succinct and Sarah-Joslyn-esque way! I can just see you grinning at strangers all over the place and dropping goodness on them. I am inspired to do it more! Love you friend.

  4. Leah Kostamo says:

    I love this so much!!! I’ve been thinking about this a lot, actually. And how refreshing it is to be with children who are so uninhibited in saying what they like or appreciate about people. I’m trying to learn from them and be more like them. Thanks for sharing. xx

  5. Hey birthday twin, I totally love giving random compliments too – keep going sister 😉

  6. Roos Woller says:

    So good Sarah, I love that about you and yes i am going to try to do it more too or just naming the beauty I see. Xoxo

  7. Jessica Galan says:

    I’m a serial compliment-er–what an outstanding story. Thank you for these words.

  8. I love this! What a great way to show someone that you ‘see’ them. Plus, writing this post revealed something in your heart that is so preciously beautiful it would be silly not to take a moment to say well done, and thank you for inspiring me to do something really practical that might actually turn out to be a great tool to reach out to other woman around me. One compliment at a time… 😉

    • Sarah Joslyn Sarah Joslyn says:

      The reciprocity of the compliments is nice too. Not necessary, but nice. Thank you, Dorette.

  9. I catch myself doing the opposite way too often–comparing myself to other women. I love the intentional practice of affirming each other instead. Thanks for this, Sarah.

  10. Definitely brave! But also beautiful. And I always love when women complement me. I’ll have to try this today!

  11. Yes!
    And in that spirit: I love your brave and open-hearted approach to the world!

  12. Helen Burns HeleneBurns says:

    Beautiful! xo

  13. Heather Deeming says:

    This is fantastic! So true. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I love this Sarah! You’ve inspired me today – I’m going to try this too 🙂


  1. […] Originally posted at SheLoves Magazine. […]

  2. […] Fighting Scarcity, One Compliment at a Time. “That single awkward moment on the ferry was the most spiritual part of my whole week. It wasn’t grand or dramatic. It didn’t bring anyone to Jesus. And maybe the shampoo commercial Venezuelan woman didn’t ever think about it again. But for me it was a beacon—a reminder to see people.” […]

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