Wonderful Ways to Use Your Words
A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver. — Proverbs 25:11
They can build up or tear down. They can impart wisdom or bring shame. They can deliver encouragement or deflate the spirit. Words can be a weapon or a healing balm. A welcome sound or a dreaded racket. And words can even change the world. Who knows just how many pivotal points in history would have been changed if someone had used their words differently.
What if, at the Virginia convention of 1775, instead of saying, “Give me liberty or give me death!”, Patrick Henry had taken the podium and declared, “Ya know… being under England’s rule really isn’t that bad. Sure the taxes are a little high on the tea and all, but fighting a revolution and forming a new country sounds quite exhausting, if ya ask me. Let’s just keep things the way they are and we can all head down to the pub for a tall cold one. All right… who’s with me?”
What if, at his first presidential inaugural address in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaking to the American people at the height of the Depression, had not said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”? What if he had sheepishly mumbled instead, “I’m excited to be president. But I have to tell you that I am a little afraid of the future. Okay, a lot afraid! The economy is horrible. So many people don’t have jobs. The political climate in the world is unstable, and I’m terrified there might be another world war. I think you should all stock up on food and lock all of your doors — and hurry! Something awful is headed this way.”
What if President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin in 1987, instead of challenging the Soviet Union by boldly urging Mr. Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” had said, “Wow! That is a ginormous wall, Mikhail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so big. But here’s the thing, dude. Not to be mean or anything, but it’s kind of ugly. Perhaps you should consider planting some nice climbing ivy along it. It might really spruce things up around here.”
Yes, the course of history has been decided at times by courageous words spoken by courageous people. And their courageous words were contagious, igniting the same courage in others. That’s actually the meaning of the word encourage — to impart courage to another. Just as important as knowing what not to say is knowing how to carefully craft our words to impart courage to others — and knowing the best time to say them.
I’m grateful for the courageous people of the past whose words and actions helped make the world a better place today. But I also thank God for the ordinary people in my personal past that imparted courage or showed kindness to me. Their words and ways helped to shape my life too. Recently, I took a quick trip back down memory lane to reflect on their impact on me.
One wintery Saturday afternoon found me cleaning our basement storage room. There were boxes of papers to sort, bins of holiday decorations to shuffle, and other assorted items that needed to be neatly realigned on the shelves. I’d estimated it would take me an hour or so to tidy up the space. Except I hadn’t factored in one thing. Memories.
The items I straightened and stacked weren’t spectacular; they were the common articles found in many basements and garages. But the fragrance of precious memories clung to them. Memories of events that changed my life. Memories of people who touched my heart. My cleaning pace slowed significantly. I gently folded the ivory lace dress my daughter wore for her baby dedication at church over two decades ago. My mother bought it for her and continues to dote on her grandchildren, picking up special gifts and treats for them. She has a knack for making others feel loved. I thank my God every time I remember my mom.
A hand-sewn stuffed bunny rabbit sat perched on a corner shelf. My college roommate Kelly lovingly crafted it for my daughter when she was young. For over thirty years, Kelly has been a thoughtful friend who never forgets my birthday and who faithfully prays for my family. I thank my God every time I remember my friend Kelly.
I found an old key on a grayed leather key chain. Turning the key chain over I saw a simple word scrawled across the back: pool. Our former neighbor, a widow and retired schoolteacher, had an in-ground swimming pool, and we did not. Without children or grandkids nearby, she gave us a key so our young family could take a dip any time we wished. I thank my God every time I remember Mrs. Beaufore.
Memories surrounded me as I sorted through yearbooks and photo albums. Old friends. Precious relatives. Former church members and coworkers. Pieces of my past. So many of these dear folks played a part in my life. Remembering them brought a smile to my face and a few tears to my eyes.
I whispered a prayer of sincere thankfulness for all of those people who helped shape my life. Their encouragement, advice, and sometimes mere presence were blessings to me. God even used the relationship bumps to help mold my character and teach me life lessons.
When addressing the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers, declaring,
I thank my God every time I remember you. — Philippians 1:3
Just calling to mind the image of these loved ones gave the apostle reason to be grateful to God. But Paul didn’t only thank God — Paul also told his friends of his gratitude. He used his words. And we can do the same. After thanking God for these precious people, we can use our words to thank them directly, verbally or in writing. It really doesn’t take that much time to briefly step out of our daily routine and devote a moment or two to shooting off an email, making a phone call, or even sending a handwritten note to someone about whom we would say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Expressing gratitude brings contentment, and contentment brings peace — peace in knowing God fits together all the pieces of our lives to make us who we are today.
So here is a challenge. Will you carve out some time today to use your words to encourage — to intentionally bless others? It really is very easy. Grab a pen or pick up your phone. Someone is waiting to hear how thankful you are for them. It might just make their day. And yours.
Got a minute? Grab a pen! Use any of these prompts to get you started on jotting a note, an email, or a text to a loved one in your life. For some, the statement stands alone. For others, elaborate on the thought that is given. Your words are sure to bless your recipient!
Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Spouse
- I trust your judgment.
- I’m glad I married you.
- Here is what I appreciate most about you…
- I am with you.
- Being your wife has taught me…
Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Child
- You can do it.
- A happy memory I have of when you were younger is…
- I am confident you can make good choices.
- Being your mom has taught me…
- God has an amazing life planned for you.
Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Parent
- I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you before, but thank you for…
- A wonderful memory I have of my childhood is…
- I admire your strength.
- How can I help you?
- I am proud of you for…
Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Friend
- My favorite thing about our friendship is…
- The best time I ever had with you was when…
- I am with you all the way.
- The character quality I most admire in you is…
- You remind me of Jesus when you…
Watch the Keep It Shut Video
Excerpted with permission from Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All by Karen Ehman, copyright Zondervan.
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Do you sometimes feel like you have very little influence in the lives around you? What are you talking about?! Your words, your speech, the way you talk — you have tremendous power! And your life-giving words are needed by the people around you — family, friends, neighbors, pastors, co-workers, bosses, and every person you interact with in your normal daily routine. Who needs your encouraging words today? Come share with us on our blog about how you lifted a heavy heart today! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.full