Saturday, September 17, 2011

with them we praise & curse

Remember that part in Hamlet where Hamlet is reading a book, and some dude (I don't remember who it was) asks him what he's reading? Hamlet replies, "Words, words, words." He's such a smarty pants. Or, I guess, back then it would've been smarty tights. Smarty leggings?

When I was in youth group, my youth pastor, Josh, told us all to stop being so sarcastic and negative to one another, and instead to tell each other what we appreciated about one another. Of course, obviously, we then made fun of him. I distinctly remember turning to my friend Erin and saying with an overly-genuine lilt in my voice, "You're a bright young woman, Erin. I appreciate you."

Once on a retreat, Josh had us all sit in a circle. Then he gave one of us a ball, and told us to, without saying a name, describe what we appreciated about another person in the room. When we were done, we threw the ball to that person, often surprising them that the kind words that were just spoken were directed at them.

I've been pondering the power of words. A young lady I worked with in the food pantry in Salt Lake City a couple of summers ago was volunteering there to fulfill court-appointed hours. She had a daughter and lived with her mom. Sometimes she just made poor decisions.

One day I told her how much I enjoyed her company; how genuine and thoughtful she was; how much I liked her. A few weeks later I'd forgotten I'd even said anything to her. To me, I was just speaking my opinion. (I do this a lot.) But she came in to work and told me she'd been having a horrible day the day before, but she remembered my words to her, and they changed her entire day.


And not just the words we speak to others. I've also been thinking about the words I think about others.

During my spring break trip to Atlanta last spring, our group of twelve college students sat in a circle in a small attic room that we couldn't even stand upright in. One group member sat in the middle, and sporadically people spoke words of encouragement to that person. Good things we saw in that person. What impact that person has had on our week/team/lives. We were supposed to be in there for an hour and a half; we finally emerged three hours later. And after sitting in a room where nothing but encouragement, good, and positive was spoken, my entire thought processes were changed as to what I thought about my teammates. We were all different, and some of us had more in common than others. But either way, when we focused on the good, we saw more good.

WORDS can be LIFE.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29

This is a challenge to me. Let it be a challenge to you, too!


Sprinkles the cat said...

What a challenge, not only to examine the words we say about others, but the words we think about them as well. Thanks for this post.

I think you're grand.

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