When Brandon and I were in youth group together, we had a pretty tight group of friends. We were with all of them a lot, so naturally we’d tease. There were times that someone would go too far and accidentally (or not so accidentally) hurt someone with their words. When that happened, our amazing youth leader was always quick to jump in and make us apologize, then we’d have to say two nice things to help heal what we had hurt and boost the esteem we had just knocked down. You said something mean about someone’s appearance? You’d have to apologize and say two nice things about their appearance. Insult their character jokingly, you had to come up with two good qualities they possessed. You know as well as I do that just saying nice things after a hurtful comment doesn’t make it go away, but somehow it would start the healing process a little faster. Kind of like neosporin does for our skin when we get little cuts. Those uplifting words sped up the natural ability to heal the hurting heart.
We all like to hear nice things about ourselves. Some people crave it more than others (I’ll admit, I need some words of affirmation up in here!) but speaking life and goodness into others will cause anyone to feel loved. It’s one of the five love languages, and for some people the daggers of hurtful words can wound deeper than others, especially if they are the kind of person (me, me!) who needs those affirming tones to build them up. Words are so much more important than we sometimes give them credit for!
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. – Proverbs 18:21
Like the rudder of a boat, your tongue has power to steer the direction you’ll go in. And don’t forget your spouse is in your boat too! It’s so easy to respond out of emotion, to want to be right, to want to prove something with your words. How much better, though, to keep quiet even if you think you’re right rather than to spout out and hurt someone for no reason, or for a wrong reason. Sometimes you didn’t even mean to hurt them, you were too focused on yourself to realize how your words could have pierced them. There have been many times that in trying to be funny or clever, I’ve inadvertently hurt someone simply because I didn’t think about how they would perceive what I had said. Even unintentionally we can bring pain to those we love by being quick to talk. Words are hard to take back and hard to heal from.
In a culture that’s always talking, it’s almost a lost art to be quiet and thoughtful before responding. But oh if we truly thought about how we speak to others. I truly believe that words can hurt and words can heal. Sharing words that lift up others can cause them to actually see that good you pointed out in them. How important this is in our marriages! Our spouse is supposed to be someone who makes us feel loved, who makes us feel safe. The world gives us enough of what we’re not good at, so let us use our marriages to point out the goodness we see in our spouse.
So, this week my challenge to you is twofold:
1) Let’s be mindful of others and take a minute before we let words come out of our mouths. (You can always add words later, but you can’t take them back once they’re said.)
2) Add in some nourishing words to build your partner up! You never know what the world told them today (or what they told themselves), so give them something positive to think about!