I’ve pondered and written about words before, but last night’s small group discussion over the first chapter of “Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World” focused on Toxic Words. As we discussed the power of words, we also talked about how words used wisely are healing and encouraging. Oh, how I want my words to be in that group rather than harsh and toxic.
Of course, as we discussed, I shared some of my “word” experiences. I figure I should share here too in case my experiences can help anyone else. First, let’s just agree that this proverb we learned as children is 100% wrong. I’ve been told that when bones break they grow back stronger when fully healed. My heart still hurts from words said to me in high school and college. Words have power that last. Use yours wisely.
Words. I remember words uttered to me by parents who were thrilled their child was in my class. I’ve found that most harsh words directed at me as a teacher, at least to me personally, have been delivered via electronic message or written letters. I honestly can’t remember someone vocalizing toxic words about my class or teaching to me. Yet, it doesn’t matter whether it’s audible or written, the words remain. Be careful with yours.
During one part of the discussion, we pondered the difference between reckless and evildoers in terms of speech. At this point, I shared how as an older elementary/young teenager, I misspoke because I didn’t think first. My mother had said something to a lady we know about her shower coming up on Saturday. I innocently commented, “When’s the baby due?” Her reply simply was that it was a bridal shower. To this day, I have never uttered that question to another person. I kid you not! I sweet lady who is very physically fit started having a bit of a tummy. I was 95% certain she was expecting. Finally, a friend and I asked her sister-in-law for verification. I mean, we didn’t want to be rude and not congratulate her on her upcoming delivery, but I refused to ask the question out of the remorse I still feel for words spoken without thought.
Another aspect of the discussion encouraged us to speak healing and loving words to others. Not to wait until it’s more convenient, but to speak it as soon as we think it. This was especially stressed due to the death of two young people in our community the afternoon prior. Don’t let people you love leave without telling them you love them. Let your students know that whether it’s a good day or a bad day that they are loved and important. Take the time to tell family, friends, and strangers that they are appreciated. I suggested that you can also say it through written words. You see, I still have notes from parents whose child is in high school or middle school which I reread at the beginning & end of each school year. On those hard and trying days, I can reread a letter from a methods students and student teachers who shared how I had impacted their lives and careers. Take the time to say it or write it.
Now, I try to be a person who plans and acts. This morning between breakfast with my parents and a hair trim, I picked up a package of notecards. I have names written on the envelopes and they’re sitting on the shelves next to me. A visual reminder to express my gratitude and affection to friends with whom God has blessed me.
The final takeaway was something that Pastor Groeschel challenged one of the men he counselled. He asked him to list 100 reasons he had to keep living (as the man had been struggling with depression). When the man struggled, Pastor Groeschel said to name something he was good at or something positive about him. As I heard this part of the video, I thought to myself. Listing 10 would be a piece of cake. Coming up with 25 would take some thinking. Fifty would certainly require creativity or deep thought. One hundred? Wow! That would be a challenge for me, so I figured I’d give it a go….
So, here’s my challenge to you. Watch your words. Speak healing and encouraging words. Write a note to let someone know that they’re appreciated. Be careful not to be reckless with words that could harm others. Words last. Finally, take the 100 reason challenge. See if you can do it, then read the list whenever the toxic words of others aim to harm you.
My 100 Reasons or Positives about Me
- I can write.
- I’m an engaging oral reader.
- I’m the “world’s best ant”.
- Students enjoy being in my class.
- I’m a decent singer.
- I can cook pretty well.
- My cats think I’m an excellent human.
- I’m pretty punny.
- I’m a good daughter.
- I’m a dependable sister.
- I’m an encouraging friend.
- I make people laugh.
- I like to serve other people.
- I enjoy encouraging others.
- I’m a professional napper.
Wow, this is going to take some time….perhaps I’ll share the other 85 when I finish. Regardless, I encourage you to make your own list. If you have difficulty, ask people who love you to give you some items to add to your list. Sometimes, I think others see us better that we see ourselves.