Sometimes God is so intent on your “getting something” that He practically bombards you with it at every turn. That’s what the last few weeks have been like for me. Every where I turn, every passage I read, is focused on a common theme … blessing others with my words. Not just any words, but spoken words. Yes. Words you say out loud to praise, inspire, strengthen, and encourage someone else. For me, this is primarily for my teenage “kids” who will not be teenagers much longer.
Not too long ago I discovered that my daughter’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation.
[If you’ve not read The Five Love Languages, by Gary Smalley, I highly recommend it. It teaches you how to show love effectively to those you care about in ways that are meaningful to them.]
If you had asked me what her love language was, I would have quickly said … Gifts. For her eyes light up when she receives any thoughtful token (especially if it is chocolate!). But I now know that is secondary to her need for verbal affirmation.
Although I thought I had praised and encouraged her often, my strong tendency toward criticism overshadowed it. In her world, the opposite of affirmation communicates the opposite of love. So I have been looking for and seizing opportunities to give her this precious, life-giving gift.
But I had a major mom-fail last weekend.
She has a solo in her Winter Guard performance. With ease and grace, she performs it beautifully. I was at the top of the bleachers videoing for their director–watching in awe. Afterward, she told me, “Mom, no one cheered for me. I thought if anyone would, it would be you. But I didn’t even hear your voice.”
Ugh. Knife to the heart! Here was a perfect opportunity to show her my love–and I failed.
My other daughter is also in this highly emotional performance. She, too, questioned me … asking if I had seen her in certain portions of the show. Being so high in the bleachers, it was hard to distinguish one from the other. Her face fell.
Ugh. Another knife!The Spoken Word Is Vital to Our Emotional Well-Being
Jacob & Esau
My small group is reading through the Book of Genesis, digesting it bit-by-bit. It’s not an organized, formal study. Instead, we focus on what God shows us individually and bring that back to the group. A few days ago I read about Jacob and Esau. Desperate for his father’s blessing, Jacob deceived Isaac and stole it from his brother, Esau (Genesis 27). What caught my attention on this reading was Isaac’s response to Esau when they discovered the deception. In tears, Esau cried out to his father,
What about me? Bless me, too! Do you only have one blessing? Do you have a blessing for me? (Genesis 27:36-38).
My heart broke when I read this. This young man was also desperate for his father’s blessing and approval. Yet his father had none left to give.
The result? Brokenness. Jealousy. Rage.
As a result of Jacob’s deception, he ran away from his family and was gone for about twenty years. Finally, God told him to return to home. On the way back, Jacob encountered God, and wrestled with Him all night. Before the match was over, God told Jacob to release Him, but Jacob refused.
He said, “I will not let go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26).
Twenty years later and Jacob was still desperate for the blessing.
The Spoken Word Is Vital to Our Emotional Well-Being
What is it about the spoken word that makes it vital to our emotional well-being?
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21 NIV)
Our words give life. Or they give death.
I don’t think any one of us can say that we have never experienced the death-knell of words at one time or another. Probably fewer can say that we know the power of life-giving words. If you have been the recipient of both, you know the power spoken words have. The right word at the right time brings joy! Whether it’s a needed word of advice, or a word of encouragement to lift a broken spirit.
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23)
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 18:12)
Once our words are verbalized, they can never be retrieved. The hearer can mentally replay them at will. Or they interrupt our thoughts without invitation. If they are words of death, they wound all over again. If they are words of life, they bring healing.
Even our silence communicates something. To my daughters, my silence communicated ambivalence–the opposite of what was in my heart!
The Choice Is Ours
We have the choice to either bless those around us with words of life, or curse and criticize those around us with words of death. I want to speak words of life. My family is desperate for them. I get a do-over this weekend. My girls have another competition, and I’m responsible for videoing their show. However, another mom and I are trading. I’m videoing her daughter’s show so she can be up front cheering her daughter on, and she is doing the same for me.What words will I say that communicate love and value to those around me?
Beyond this weekend, however, the question is … what words will I say that communicate love and value to those around me? It’s not just our families who need to hear our words. God places people across our paths every day that need a word of encouragement. Will you give it?
A great resource for learning how to give a blessing similar to those given in biblical times is The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley.
Image: Pixabay (David Watts)