Words are my husband's love language. Nothing seems to make him feel as valued and as happy as a sincere compliment or thank-you.
Words are not my love language. While I appreciate gushy language, I'm not prone to speaking it - and it can make me rather uncomfortable and nervous, too. Words are not my thing to give.
But that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate them, and lately I've been watching as my husband and I both received some good words - and some that were hard to hear.
So I've been thinking about words. How much importance should we be giving them? How quickly should we throw them out?
Proverbs 4:23 says that we should Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. I think, among other things, that we need to be careful how much weight we give the words of others.
So when words hurt, ask yourself: Are these words true? Not Are they painful?, because being painful does not make them correct. If they are true, painful or not, then what do you need to do about them? Do you need to ask for forgiveness, correct a wrong, clarify the statement, etc? Determine what, if any, action is needed.
But often we're faced with how to use words. Again, what does the Bible say? Ephesians 4:29 says Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
From my perspective, that's not always easy. Sometimes I need to walk away to calm down before I say something that would most definitely not be discouraging - like asking HOW a certain child could lose a shoe AGAIN when it's time to go out the door? When we're already late and I was supposed to be early and there's a special place just for those shoes? ;-)
But while discipline has it's place and frustration is real, sometimes we're not supposed to express that. Sometimes we (I) need to be more encouraging. So here are some ways to use encouraging words, even when those might not be our first choice.
1. Write a note on the bathroom mirror. Dry erase markers will wash right off of that glass, and positive words written there are sure to be a fun surprise. Writing a compliment to your spouse? Write in lipstick.
2. Write on a banana. Sounds weird, I know, but carving a short message into a banana peel with a paring knife is super fun. The edges you cut will turn brown in a few hours, making your message stand out - and the recipient smile.
3. Put together a simple gift basket with a card. Someone did that for me this week. The gifts are fun but the words meant the world. Seeing happy and positive thoughts at a time when I was discouraged really changed my outlook.
4. Say thanks. When my children fight their way out of a habit that bugs me, or even make a tiny snail-sized step in the right direction, telling them how much I like what they've done often gives them the incentive to repeat it - without any ugly words or disciplinary action needed.
5. Post a compliment on Facebook. We recently took a field trip with a bunch of other people - a trip that I planned. We returned later that afternoon and I found that I had been flagged in someone else's post. She was exclaiming how much her family had learned on the trip, and by tagging me, I was sure to see it - and that made my day. I'm sure it took only a second to add my name to a post she was going to write, anyway, but it definitely brightened my day. How easily could the rest of us do that, as well?
How can you use words wisely today?