We all know some variation of the well-meaning phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me.” In fact, most of us were taught to recite something like this in an attempt to protect ourselves from word grenades. What a dangerous lie. In my adult life, I’ve come to understand that sticks and stones can break some bones, but words can nearly kill you. I’ve had very hurtful things said to and about me over the course of my life. And though it’s painful to admit, I’ve said hurtful things as well. Just ask those closest to me. Most of the time, people blind themselves to the soul damaging power their gun-powdered words have.
But this post isn’t about word wounds.
Three weeks ago, I turned 35. And do you know what I did? I hung out at home all day taking care of a baby. No party. No cake. No gifts. Glamorous, I know. But it ranks up there with one of the best birthdays I’ve had. That’s a strange thing, indeed, considering my love language is gifts.
But guess what happens when bows, ribbons, and expensive dinners aren’t distracting you? You are able to fully see the gift of PEOPLE.
Even though I was terribly inconsistent with wishing others a happy birthday this past year, on my own birthday, the wishes kept pouring in. Some of them from people I hadn’t connected with since the year before. And I felt full of life, ALL.DAY.LONG. Responding to each message brought me such joy.
How many times have I wished others “Happy Birthday!” and haven’t thought much of it? Surely it’s been thousands upon thousands of times. In fact, most of us don’t pay much attention to the power of words except when we are on the receiving end of them. They’re just words, after all. But, our words have both the ability to produce life or death in the soil of someone’s heart. It’s an incredible responsibility to guard that which rolls so easily off our tongues.
The gift of kind words inspired me to intentionally seek out ways to encourage others around me, even if it’s just a simple “hello.” There are times I don’t speak up because I don’t think anyone else needs to hear what I have to say. But maybe, just maybe, they are in need of a fresh cistern of water to replenish the garden of their souls.
Yes, words can wound. But, words also have the power to generate life.