Words can sure make a difference to those around us, can’t they?
We can encourage, empower, sympathize, validate, challenge, question, love, tear down, ridicule, gossip, discourage, hate and many other things…..all with the same words, rolling off of the same tongue. Isn’t that interesting?
When I was younger, primarily in elementary school, I faced many negative words, often in the form of insults. It was a part of the whole bullying chapter of my life.
I remember one day in particular. I was walking up the street, heading somewhere….I can’t remember where exactly. To my right was my neighbor’s house. It was a rickety old thing, half-finished and thrown together. They had a large deck that faced the street. So, as I strolled by, minding my own business, I heard shouts, laugher and chanting. It sounded like it was directed at me….it was. They were (by “they” I mean the mom and some of the kids) shouting, “whale watching, whale watching!” They were referring to my weight. Shouting at me like I was some large, over-stuffed whale, slowly meandering down the street. It was pretty mean, it was immature and it added to the complex that I already had about my size.
Now, granted, I wasn’t obese or anything. I was just a thicker kid….”husky” and “big-boned” are the words that my mom used to comfort me….bless her heart. In my mind, I was more than just “thick” or “big-boned”, I was huge. I was a walking marshmallow…..which brings me to my point; the negative power of my neighbor’s (and other’s) words caused me to view myself differently. I believed the words. They caused me to struggle for many years with self-image. I was disgusted with myself. Pretty sad really.
As the years have gone by, I have gotten through the whole self-image struggle. God has replaced my negative thoughts with truthful thoughts. I have peace in knowing that I am God’s creation, made for a purpose….His purpose. I will never forget the memories, the pain and the confusion though.
Deep down inside, no matter who we are or what we believe, there is a need to be included, to be needed, to be loved. It’s how we are wired…for relationship and interaction.
My struggles have changed my heart. I am more sensitive to other’s feelings. I try hard everyday to watch my words, to encourage and to make people laugh.
There’s a bible verse that talks about our words being an overflow of what’s in our heart. I think it’s true.
Please join me in the daily struggle and challenge of watching our words. Look for opportunities to empower. Look for opportunities to encourage. Look for opportunities to give hope. Look for opportunities to love and love a lot. You might just change someone’s life with just a few words. You never know.
How have other’s words made an impact on your life?