Words of Life
Piggy-backing off of last week’s topic regarding our words, I was thinking this week that our challenge to speak words that bring encouragement, hope and healing is not only for the lost and hurting that God puts in our lives; it is also for those closest to us. I’m as guilty as anyone for speaking without thinking and promptly inserting my big foot into my big mouth! Part of what is wonderful about our “inner circle” relationships is that they are safe, and we feel we can relax and be ourselves. Sometimes though, we get too comfortable…even lazy…and stop putting an effort into those relationships. Being comfortable and safe doesn’t mean we don’t still have to actively invest in those relationships. Just as plants require sun and water to grow and thrive, our relationships require attention, caring and effort to do the same. When we stop working at those relationships, we can sometimes become complacent and turn our verbal filters off. Whatever pops into our head just flies right on out of our mouths, and we can end up speaking some hurtful things at times. Every time we speak, we have the opportunity to speak life or death. The words we speak can feed a relationship or kill it (and I’m talking about all relationships, not just romantic relationships). Teasing and joking can be fun, but what if we are doing that more than we are saying “I love you”, “I appreciate you”, “I’m thankful for you”, or “You are so great at…”? Yes, we are to hold each other accountable and correct each other, but that is not the same as using our position in that person’s life as a license to critique everything they do. Truthfully, relationships are more likely to thrive when we speak loving and positive things more than we are criticizing. Criticism is like hot sauce; a little bit goes a very long way (unless you’re one of those people that loves hot sauce, in which case…insert your own analogy *here*). If there is an issue that needs to be discussed, we need to be talking about it in a constructive way, focusing on the positive as well as areas for improvement. We need to stop and ask ourselves, if I say this, will it enhance this relationship or will it create resentment or distance? Frankly, if it’s not going to enhance the relationship, it’s probably not worth saying. We also need to be intentional about complimenting each other and pointing out what we appreciate about each other. That’s part of what encouragement looks like in a practical, everyday life sort of way! Ideally, we should never miss an opportunity, in one way or another, to say “I love you”.
This week, look at your friends, spouse, children, neighbors and coworkers. Are you missing opportunities to speak life and hope into those lives? How can you intentionally become more aware of those opportunities? What might the result be if you did?