“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
It’s an old adage that I’ve never quite felt to be true. Because in my world - words matter. Words matter a lot. Heck, my entire foundation is built upon The Word. As a kid, I took to heart what people said about me - what words they thought to be true. As an adult, I found my voice and confidence through written word. It’s how I process emotions, where I find my greatest inspiration and how, I believe, God uses me to impact the lives of others, in however small a way. Words matter.
Today, we live in a world where people swing around words that are meant to hurt, to kill. Where words are flippantly used and thrown around that cause deep pain for others. From a macro level, I feel like our country is in a state of utter word vomit. I stopped watching the news and reading newspapers years ago because I’m so disheartened by the state of media. And especially during an election year - forget about it. On a more personal level, I’ve seen recently how words can destroy a community and friendships. I’ve seen how it can easily dismember reputations, credibility and break hearts. Quite frankly, it’s painful to watch and I grieve over it. Words matter.
In the same way, I’ve seen how a word can light someone up. How an affirmation or compliment can change the trajectory of their day. It can transport someone to a place where they feel worthy, valued and appreciated. I don’t always do it well, but I hope to use more of these types of words in my vocabulary. I think encouragement is one of the most underutilized gifts and tools to impact change. It’s a funny thing - it’s not always easy to spread encouragement. It should be, but it's not. There is a certain state of vulnerability you have to get to to be comfortable sharing how you truly feel about someone, no matter how wonderful or positive those feelings may be. Feelings can be hard. But those words, those words, they matter.
Something so simple as, “Hey, you really deserved that promotion."
Or, “You look beautiful/handsome today."
Or even, “You are really gifted at making people feel welcome. I just wanted to let you know, it doesn’t go unnoticed."
Words can really impact someone's life. Don't keep them to yourself.
We listen to podcasts for an insightful word, lyrics to evoke emotion and some of us, Scripture to hold us steady. Words have meaning to us - they bind us together, create beauty and promote change. I truly believe (and wish) we could step into a space where words were only used for good. That's probably a bit idyllic, but I'm serious. I wish that words were used to solely uplift and empower and spread joy. And maybe that just means it starts with me. That it starts with this little corner of the internet. And it can start with you too. With how you interact with your coworkers, whether or not you gossip behind someone's back or how you approach hard confrontation. Whatever it may be, I think it would behoove all of us to remember that,