On my first day of highschool I wore plaid.
It seems like an odd thing to remember, right? I couldn’t tell you what I wore on the first day of any other school year. But because of what happened to me—or more specifically what was said to me—I remember my outfit from that day all this time later.
During lunchtime an upper class-man made a mean comment about my plaid shirt and my appearance. Silly really. What did it matter what this girl thought about my clothes or how I looked? But my 13 year-old self went home crushed from her unkind words and paranoid about my appearance.
Obviously I recovered from this little incident. I still wear plaid, as documented above ;). And over time, I’ve learned to feel comfortable in my own skin—regardless of what others think of me. But, I think this plaid incident illustrates well the power words have. For crying out loud, I still remember those silly words from twenty-two years ago today!
What we say to people matters a lot. It matters more than we probably realize. And I am not just talking about the negative. In fact, I am sure we can all recount a time someone used their words to build us up. Encouraging words have the potential to build up and encourage long after they are spoken!!
And yet so many words spill out of our mouths every day and just how careful are we to guard them—to make sure we use them only for good. Oh, man. I can recount more than one time I said something I later regretted or had to seek forgiveness for.
Anyway, I just want to remind myself and my dear readers that we have an amazing tool we can use to encourage and build others up in ways they may never forget. And it doesn’t cost a penny!
Ways to use your words for good…
-Compliment others for positive qualities you see in them. Aim for more than just physical appearance. (As a bonus, this really kicks jealousy in the teeth. It’s hard to be envious of others when you build them up. Give it a try!)
-Send cards or notes to encourage people who are sick or “shut-in”. If you can’t think of anyone, perhaps you could do this for a local nursing home.
-Speak only positively of others. In other words, as your mama used to say, “if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all”. (This one eliminates gossip.)
-In conversation, ask others about themselves and then really listen to what they have to say. Respond with encouraging, helpful words and resist the urge to make the conversation about you.
-Pray for other people, not just for yourself. Ask others how you can be praying for them. And then really do pray.
I hope, like me, you feel encouraged to use your words for good.
What words have you carried with you over time? Or, what ideas do you have for using your words for good?