the power of life giving and redeeming words for our health

May 9, 2024

caravan sonnet
These past couple of months I have been challenged by the truth of how words can deeply impact us. Words have this incredible power- to either destroy or give life. The way that we speak to each other, the words that we choose to use, the type of words that we use to communicate with each person we encounter has such importance to each and every relationship we have. This can be with friends, co-workers, boss-employee relationships, family members, etc.

This past year I have been really considering this concept in deeper and more significant ways. I have been in a situation where I have been honestly shocked at the way that people have been speaking to each other, the words have been used, and the crushing tone. There have been times that I have had harsh words spoken to my tender heart, implications of things by words chosen and they have deeply crushed me. There have been times in these last couple of months specifically I have watched (truly in horror) at the way that we as a world have handled disagreements and used words to speak death to each other. Like many of you sweet friends, I have wept at the insensitivity of reckless words spoken to me and to others. 

But then... these past months I have also stopped and examined my own words that I use in different situations. While my heart would never try to be intentionally mean or hurtful, I am humbled to realize the way that I speak can truly have an impact on another human being. Recently, I have been so challenged to examine the words that I use every time I speak. Scripture states, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24) These are the types of words that I always want flowing from my mouth as they come out of my heart. 

One of the ways that I have seen this beautifully modeled in my own life was through my precious grandmother I affectionately called "Ba". She gently influenced who I am in significant ways through the way that she talked.

Growing up I had always admired Ba, but as I grew older I was truly inspired by her. Her love for her family, her devotion to the Lord, her courageous heart that went back to school in her fifties, learned to ski in her sixties, took up dancing in her seventies, and her love for living life to the fullest are just some of the qualities I have always admired about her. Several years before she died she suffered a bad accident and lost sight in her left eye. For many people in their eighties this would have been something that you could not recover from, but not Ba. Instead, everyone witnessed her grace and eloquence that she has always portrayed in every situation. She loved fiercely and I considered her to be one of my best friends. She was truly a remarkable woman with a love for life.
I had the privilege of living with her for more than two years as an adult and I came to admire something even greater about this precious woman, and that is the way that she spoke to people and about people. She constantly spoke with life-affirming and redeeming words- to others and about every situation. She rejoiced deeply with those who were rejoicing and wept deeply with those going through difficult and hard seasons of life, spreading and speaking life-giving words into each and every situation. There were many times where I sat down and wept over different issues that seemed impossible to me, and she gently and lovingly spoke life into the dark crevices that I was tempted speak death into. 

When I was discouraged or felt like giving up, Ba continuously spoke gentle encouragement into my heart. I look back at so many situations in life where people would consider me "successful" and I see the gentle and wise encouragement that my grandmother gave to help me obtain that success. I think back and realize that without encouragement there are so many things that I never would have done in my life. Encouraging words change everything

The Message says Proverbs 16:24 like this: "Gracious speech is like clover honey- good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body." This reminds me so much of Ba. Her speech was not only good for the soul, but brought energy to every body she encounters. 

I have realized that I want my words to hold the same life-affirming and redeeming power. I may not know every battle or trial that someone is going through that I encounter, or the depth of pain someone is going through, but my words have the power to offer encouragement and change a person's story. Ian Maclaren, a Scottish author and minister, is widely credited to have said, "Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." The way that we talk to each other can breathe a different story of love, life, and hope into the hard battles that other people are facing. When we speak with love and hope, we often can see the heart of a person better. We can embrace the people before us knowing that they are trying their best and rest in the positive truth that our words can impact everyone we encounter. 

I am challenged to face hard questions too. Who needs my encouragement to chase their dreams? Who could be changed by my words? Who is hurting around me that could use a simple encouraging word? How could my community be changed by simply encouraging the dreams of those around me? 

This challenges me so deeply. I wish that I could sit down with each of you reading this and hear your stories. If no one else tells you today, know that I believe in your dreams and am encouraging you to chase them. You can do it!! 

So today sweet friends, let us see the people all around us who are hurting and are in pain. Our world is truly broken right now, but we can change that. Today, sweet friends, lets spread hope into those before us. Let us spread the power of life-affirming and redeeming words to each person that we encounter. Let us spread words of encouragement and words of life into our world, knowing that our encouragement can change the lives of everyone we encounter. 

"Words kill, words give life, they're either poison or fruit- you choose."
-Proverbs 18:21, the Message-

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