The Lasting Impact of Words

Words, 3 Qs

Have you ever thought about the power and impact of our words? As someone who loves to read and is currently writing a book, words have always been important to me. But also as someone who tries to always encourage others and who has been brutally injured by harsh words spoken, I also am aware of the power words hold. Words can teach and encourage or they can hurt and destroy.

If we pause and think about what meaning a single word has to us. What do these words say to your heart? LOVE

Words are our primary form of communication. We anxiously await our babies beginning to speak and celebrate each new word. Parents will tell young children “use your words” rather than sounds or whining or non-verbal actions. We talk in person, we speak on the phone, we write letters, we listen to talking on TV and in plays. Even most words with a beautiful melody also have words to listen to. Poetry is composed of words that rhyme and are spoken to a certain rhythm.

Words make up our thoughts, our thoughts then direct our feelings and actions. Everything starts in our minds. Even our personal struggles between doing right or wrong begin in the brain, with our thoughts of what to do and what we say to ourselves to influence our decision. Luke 6:45 says that what you speak comes from the abundance of your heart. Self-talk is very powerful. If we tell ourselves “I can’t” then we can’t. If we say to ourselves “I am too old”, then we limit what we can do and often even what we will attempt to do. If we say to ourselves ”That isn’t worth getting upset about”, then we probably won’t react as much. If we say to ourselves ”I want to do all that I can”, then we will try a little harder to use the abilities we have.

mouth speaks heart

Sometimes when we get older and our health and ability to get around lessens, we may think that there isn’t much we can do to make a difference. But we can still have purpose and touch another person’s life regardless of our limitations. Can you remember when you were feeling sad or forgotten and you got a phone call from an old friend or a card that cheered you up? Even those who are in wheelchairs or bed-fast can make a call to brighten another person’s day or send a “Thinking of You” or “Get well” card to encourage someone and let them know that there are others who care about them. If you make one phone call a day to someone you know who is alone, you can brighten their day and at the same time brighten yours. I believe the best thing we can do for a friend or family member who is going through a difficult time in their life is to call or visit and simply listen to what they want to talk about.

We all can likely recall words of criticism, discouragement or insult that we have received in our life. Words leave a lasting impact and negative words like these may have shaped your self-image. The saying “Sticks and stones my break your bones but words will never hurt you” is not true. Harsh, insulting, mean words can cut like a knife and leave a lasting wound in your heart. But positive, caring, words of encouragement can uplift us, help us to see ourselves in a new light, realize our potential and believe we have worth and purpose.

So each of us can choose that we want to be a person who brings that light into the lives of others. There is a saying that before we speak we should stop and think: “Is this true?”, “Is this necessary?”, ” Is this kind?” If what we were going to speak does not meet this criteria, perhaps we should keep the words to ourselves. Can you imagine what our world would be like if everyone did this? We can choose to make a difference, seeing the good in others, speaking love and affirmation, and leaving a lasting positive deposit in someone we know.

There is a powerful book titled “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman which discusses the five primary ways that people show and receive love. They are physical affection, acts of service, quality time, gifts and words of affirmation. These would be words such as “I love you”, “I am proud of you”, “You look so pretty today”, “ I am so glad that you are my child /spouse/ or friend. It is not only the words we speak but how we speak them. To be affirming we need to speak in a kind manner, with a soft, caring tone of voice. Otherwise, our tone and body language may negate what we are actually speaking.

Proverbs 15 tells us that “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger”. So how we speak has a direct impact on what our relationships with others. You may have been raised by parents who never said a kind thing but were very critical. Your spirit was wounded. There is a saying that “hurting people hurt people”. Solomon in Proverbs 18:21 stated “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” So you may then have spoken to your children the same way. You could be experiencing the fallout today with children who keep a distance because of the negative things spoken to them over the years. It is not too late to call or write and apologize for the hurtful things you said to them and ask for their forgiveness. It could change your relationships for the rest of your years.

gentle word

Lastly, I want to talk about how you can give a gift with your words. Another way to use our words to bless another person is to write a letter of encouragement and affirmation. Judy Noland has written a workbook titled “Leave Nothing Unsaid”. She gives instructions on how to write a letter to family or a friend who we care about to share our feelings. By writing this letter, we are leaving a permanent expression of our love and belief in them. It is something they can pick up and read any day that they need encouragement or feel forgotten or unloved.

Think about how people keep old love letters, notes from their children when they were young, cards from friends or family that particularly touched their heart. You can give a gift like that by writing a letter. I personally have decided to write one to my children and husband this Christmas. It is a gift that costs almost nothing but can give immense pleasure and priceless affirmation.

I hope this has encourages you to think about the words you speak and the lasting impact they can have . . for good or harm. Remember that we don’t have to speak everything we think and it is wise to ask ourselves those three simple questions: “Is this true?”, “Is this necessary?”, ” Is this kind?” Perhaps today you can give some words of affirmation to someone you talk to and make their day a brighter one.

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