Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let Us All Speak Kinds Words

Today in church one of our speakers gave a talk that really was profound to me.  It was about our words, the way they uplift or deflate, bring comfort or pain.  We have all heard these things before but I really liked the approach Brother Greg took when he said he wanted to consider it in four different ways.  I'd like to springboard off of the premise of that talk with some ideas of my own.

1.  The things we say that are positive and good.

This one is fairly obvious.  We should always try to make people feel good and lift them.  I am talking about praising and acknowledging and noticing and appreciating the things about people that are true,  and then genuinely expressing the way we feel about them in words.  To build and edify is always a good thing.  We never know how some kind words can improve on a person's day, their outlook on life and the very way they see themselves.  This is especially true of children but I don't think people really ever outgrow the need to hear what we value about them.  It is just a part of kindness and love and being filled with the love of Christ.

2.  The things we should say and don't.

There are many times when people are just stingy about saying kind things to people around them.  Part of this may be their own pride or fear of something being taken the wrong way or just being unaware.  I think a lot of it is attributed to people being so self-involved they just don't think about how they affect others.  We live in a 'me first' era.  Reaching out and blessing others does not come naturally to all people.  It requires awareness, an outward focus and a desire to edify another.  

We've all heard of the man who was asked why he never told his wife he loved her.  His response was, "I told her when I married her and that should be enough."  There are parents that never tell their children they love them or treat them with affection or give them praise.  This is criminal in my opinion.  Things like that leave deep empty spaces in kids and adults too.  Everyone needs to have reassurances from the people they love and admire and respect in words.  We cannot assume they just know.  To be loved and appreciated is a basic human need.  I think sometimes we think contributing to that for someone else surely isn't our job.  Someone else will take care of that person's needs. 

Today a beautiful young woman came up to me after church and with tears in her eyes told me something she loved about me.  She didn't have to do that but I will not forget that tender moment we shared.  I have known her all her life but today we share something that made me love her more than ever.  She blessed my life more than she knows today.  Being noticed for something is affirming, not because you want to be recognized in a worldly way, but because sometimes you just need to know you matter to someone.  The key is it must be genuine kindness, not just empty flattery.  And you can tell the difference in a heartbeat.  Your words should be given freely with no ulterior motives.  It is not a chore or a job, it is a blessing and a gift to be given. 


3.  The things we shouldn't say and do.

This is a big one.  We have all said things to someone we regret.  We have all said words we would love to take back.  The tongue is a very hefty weapon and we need to guard it well.  Do you remember the little verse from our childhood, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me."  Is there anything that could be further from the truth?  I can imagine we all remember things that have been said to us that cut to our core.  Often they stay with us our whole lives.  We can forgive but it is hard to forget.  

Jim and I tried extremely hard to always remember this when our children were growing up and we still do now.  I do regret one incident where I messed up and what happened several years later.  Christopher thought that when he grew up he might want to be a doctor.  We would talk about it as moms and kids do from time to time. 

One time I was asking him to do something.  I am not even sure what it was but he pushed me to exasperation, I do remember that.  He was probably about 8 or so.  In my anger I said, "Chris, you will never be a doctor if you cannot do this one simple thing! (Clean up your room or whatever it was.)  When he received his PhD in mechanical engineering 20 something years later he reminded me of that comment.  I had hurt my little boy and I felt terrible.  I begged for his still brings tears to my eyes.  Words can hurt.  We have to think before we say things.  He said something sweet like,  "Don't worry, Mom, it motivated me to keep going!"  He is such a great and loving son.  We should all want to be remembered for all our kind words, never for the ones that cut into another's heart.  

4.  The things we should never say.

This one made me think of what lying about someone or something can do.  Or about gossiping and backbiting and how it can sting and hurt and destroy people.  I once heard it described this way.  Spreading a story that discredits or defames another person is like stabbing into a feather pillow with a big knife in a windstorm.  No matter how hard you try you can never retrieve all those feathers again.  The fall out just keeps on hurting.  You just cannot take your words back.  What we say about a person to someone else changes how your friend views them.  It can be had for the good but often it is not a good thing.  We may do it in the heat of the moment but when we cool off and have regrets, the words still hang in the air like raunchy cigarette smoke that doesn't dissipate. 

I thought about the bullying that goes on in schools today.  We worry about our grandkids.  Most kids will be victimized by it in their life time to some degree.  We have to make sure our kids are not the ones doing it and that they are also protected from the ones that do. 

The other thing this made me think about was how we should not judge unrighteously or jump to conclusions about other people.  Especially our family and good friends.  I think truth be known, most times we are wrong about what is going on with them.  We need to cut people some slack, trust in them and believe in them even if they are not doing exactly what we think they should be doing 24/7.  God is not finished with any of us yet.  We need to be patient, long-suffering and forgiving and above all loving.  If we need to say something to that person, may we do it with kindness and consideration and in a non-accusing or threatening way.  

Our words matter, they really really do.  Hopefully we can chose them wisely and never with the intention of hurting.  I know I want to be remembered for my kind words...always.  I want my words to be thoughtful and filled with propriety and circumspection.  Our heart needs to be in the right place.  No one is perfect in these areas but we must just keep working on it all of our lives. I'm thankful for Christ's perfect example and His tender forgiving heart when we fall short.  How would we ever survive without Him to lead us, guide us and walk beside us? Or without His loving care for each of by one.


Marie said...

Another beautiful post Bonnie. I could read your "words" forever. Mayhap one day we will be able to share a few words with each other around my humble kitchen table. Now that would be fine. xxoo

Bonnie said...

Thank you, Marie! I would love to have "in person' time with you. I am planning on it one day. We have been friends for several years now, you are an important part of my life. Love and miss you! Bon