The spoken word is the most common and effective way we communicate with other people.
Whether we want it to or not, everything we say carries a message that is left to be interpreted by the receiver. I blush to think about some of the words I’ve spoken in the past that probably did not deliver a productive message.
When faced with a crisis, talking through the situation with a person I trust is generally the first resource I use to work through the issue at hand. I absolutely hate having to rationalize over potential outcomes by myself for two reasons. It’s overwhelming and it makes me feel lonely. When I can lay everything on the table in front of someone I trust and who knows me well, I feel at ease knowing I have someone who is willing to listen to me and offer wisdom when appropriate. I am so thankful for the people in my life who have used their words to encourage me.
I am also familiar with the negative impact words have the potential to carry. So many of the decisions I have made in my life have been a result of listening to the lies spoken to me by some of my peers. Although this sounds contradictory to what I just stated, it doesn’t take much to tear someone down with a thoughtless expression. It seems crazy that a few enunciated vibrations from inside our throat could carry so much power, but it’s true. Whatever we say could either build someone up or tear that person down without any forewarning.
It seems crazy that a few enunciated vibrations from inside our throat could carry so much power, but it’s true.
But rather than being scared by this fact, let’s look at it as an incredible opportunity to encourage those around us who may be facing a huge life obstacle at the moment. If that means being available to listen to someone pour out his or her story, offer advice when appropriate, or just uttering a few positive words in passing, we can all be instruments of grace in the lives of those around us.
As discouraged as I’ve been at times because of others’ negative words, and as much as I know I have hurt others through what I have said before, I have a strong conviction that the world would be a much different place if we used our speech to build one another up rather than try to convince everyone they are wrong. You never know what crisis a person may be going through on any given day, but a few encouraging words could be just what he or she needs to feel loved and appreciated at that moment.
What could encouraging words sound like when you’re not sure what to say?
You can always say, “I don’t know what to say right now, but I’m so glad you shared that with me. I’m listening.”
This post’s author, Lucy, is one of the recipients of Selah’s Sara Lindsey Memorial Lovin’ Life Scholarship, offered to two graduating seniors every year.