Friday, March 21, 2014

How We Say It

To some people, words don't seem to mean much - they prefer actions. To others, they form the complete volume of life's meaning. To both parties, words mean the world, whether we like to admit it or not.

I've always been in the second group (who would have guessed? ;) As a little girl I always measured my successes by what people said. For instance: If Dad told me I was good at playing the piano, I felt assured that I could to do it. On the other hand, if someone informed me that I was terrible at basketball, I might have kept trying, but something inside me just wilted.

Strong willed and woefully defiant was what I was before God changed my nature and gave me wisdom - but inside, words still had a powerful affect that could empower or cripple my confidence.

Funny, but I've realized that a lot of people are that way. In my mind, even though I know there are more complexities and differences in people than this, the world is split into two kinds of people:

  • The "Type A" personality is a go-getter. These folks are amazing with schedules, lists and thinking on their feet. Everything about them is quick. They love organization and are awesome at getting things started. They prefer a good, old fashioned "Acts of service" as a love language.

  • The "Type B" personality is more laid back. They think long and slow about things, but when they are through mulling everything over, they seldom have words or actions to regret. These people normally don't care for "to do" lists and structure, but are the tear-wiping, advice-giving encouragers that are there for the ones who are. Their love language tends to lean toward "Words of Affirmation."

That's a stunning amount of people to whom words carry the weight of success. Even the ones who aren't particularly inclined to measure their life's effectiveness based on what people say, I don't think any of them would feel appreciated if they were never told "Hey, you did a great job today."

Words are powerful. What you say (and sometimes, what you don't) means more than any of us think. Everything we say leaves a mark on the one who hears it. There are compliments that have encouraged me more than anyone could ever know...and other remarks that stung and cut deep. You can always forgive someone, but humans aren't very good at forgetting. Those words leave scars that bring questions like, "Did they really mean that?"

In my life I want to take every opportunity to show my family that I love them - build them up and water their confidence with my words. Mind you, though, there's a great difference between a genuine compliment and a "Oh my..." *insert syrupy, high voice* "You are doing such a great job eating your marshmallows!" Everyone knows the fake from the real. Saying what you mean is also a valuable skill.

Go ahead and give it a try - you may never know how your taking the time to encourage someone will assure and bless someone for years to come.


Anonymous said...

Such an important part of all of our lives. We are constantly either "tearing down" or "building up" with our words. Every critical remark, look or action tears down our loved ones, and I've found that no one can rise above criticism. But, despite the other persons faults, if we can find something to praise, encourage and edify that person, he will live up to that praise.

Anna said...

That's an awesome thought. "Your words create" is a saying that's always stuck with me.