Next week is one of the biggest outreaches our church does all year. From Tuesday through Saturday we will have a booth at the Benton County Fair. What I find fascinating is how powerful the encouraging words we give are. Last year we had a couple come to the table. After Tom and I gave what we felt God tell us to give, they looked at us and smiled. They received the same words last year at the fair. They felt great that they received the same words from different people a year apart. To them it symbolized being on the right track.
The message about the power of words has been burning in my heart. I wrote about this back in December. I’ve decided to reprint in part a revised version.
When I was younger, I used to get picked on. I’ve touched on this before in a previous post. I decided very early on that I would stick up for myself with my words and my fists. I would be proactive. In other words, I was a bully. There was one girl I used to pick on quite often. Why? It’s simple, because I could. I was not proud of that person I used to be and years later when I was a teenager, I became a Christian.
One day when I was 18 I was on a city bus and I noticed a girl staring at me. I sat in the back of the bus and right before she was about to get off, she looked at me. She asked, “Do you remember me?” I replied, “No, I’m sorry I don’t.” The next thing she said went through me like a knife, “You used to pick on me and beat me up when we were in grade school.” She then got off the bus. I just wanted to crawl under a rock. I was stunned. I was speechless. When my brain started to work again, I wanted to get off the bus and chase her down and tell her how very sorry I was. I wanted to tell her I’m not the same person. I was ashamed that I couldn’t remember the face of someone I caused such pain. I didn’t have the decency to remember her name. But all I could do was pray and ask God to forgive me. I prayed for her that she would find peace and healing for the hurt I caused.
But I wasn’t totally an evil kid. I had a good friend named Aminie. One day Aminie was upset and feeling blue. I asked her what was going on. She wanted to be a lawyer when she got older and that day, she felt it would never happen (she was only fourteen years old at the time and I was fifteen). I took a piece of paper and wrote something simple along these lines, “My friend Aminie is very smart and one day will be a great lawyer.” I signed my name. Twenty years later when she came to visit me for a weekend. She asked if I remembered writing this and then took that piece of paper out of her wallet. I was stunned. I had totally forgotten that I did that. She told me in law school, when things got tough, she would take out that piece of paper and it would encourage her to continue. She thanked me for getting her through law school.
Words carry great weight to them – either to heal or to harm. As a writer the written word is permanent, written forever. What I’ve come to realize is that the spoken word is just as powerful – written forever in a person’s heart. What I want to speak are encouraging words that propel people toward their destiny. Lord help me to always choose my words carefully. Help me to speak words that encourage others. Let my words be Your words spoken out of love. Amen
© Nadine Z. 2007