We all carry around within us a self-image that traces back to words.
Good words and not-so-good words.
Many were not so fortunate. Maybe you've spent most of your life trying to forget what someone said or the name(s) they called you.
Likely that was someone you cared about. A parent. A sibling. Someone who betrayed you.
It's the people we love who hold the power to wound us most deeply, whether deliberately or unintentionally.
Some of us heard words like these
- "You make me sick!"
- "Can't you ever do anything right?"
- "You've always been a loser and you're headed for trouble, I just know it."
Words like these lodge deep within a child or teenager and cloud their view of themselves and what's possible.
Even between adults this kind of talk can poison self-esteem and shred the fabric of a marriage.
You and I are not immune simply because we're Christians. It's scary how easily such hurtful remarks slip out of our mouths and become habit within our family or our marriage. (And have you noticed how one hurtful word leads to an even worse response?)
As usual, the Apostle Paul had something to say about this:
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)
What if within our own home we specialized on life-giving words?
No parent--or spouse--is perfect, but we can change. At any age. Or rather, God can change us and we can grow into a person who speaks life.
Let's not mistake "life-giving words" for what the practice of telling children, "You're amazing!" for every little thing. What truly helps youngsters feel good about themselves and builds their self-confidence is when we compliment their good behavior and honest efforts. Then our words ring true and the young person feels pride.
Suppose we spoke encouragement
The same process strengthens marriages. Husbands and wives hunger for those good words, too.
There's no need to get flowery and any of us can say simple words like these:
- "You really worked hard on that, didn't you? Good for you!"
- "I know you have it within you to be a success at whatever you do."
- "Thanks. I appreciate you."
- "It means so much to know I can always count on you."
- "I love you."
Think a steady diet of such words would change the climate within a home--or send a youngster into the world feeling secure?
Again, Paul lays out our motivation.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience. . . . And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. --Colossians 3:12,17 (NIV)
Please share with us: Which words have played a part in making you who you are? Just click on "Comments" below.
Still growing, too,