Recently I’ve joined a ladies group that’s reading the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. While this book has made me reflect on many aspects of my life, most notably it has reiterated to me of the power spoken words and how they can have such a lasting impact on people for their entire lives.
It has made me realize how deeply words spoken to me in the past have influenced me, and has made me reevaluate the way I want to speak words to others.
Growing up I had a member of my extended family who I held in very high regard as a small child. I loved her deeply and I very much wanted her love and acceptance. I’ve learned later that in reality, I only “loved” her due to her position rather than as a result of an actual relationship that I had with her. She could be a very cruel person. She was really bitter and had a razor sharp tongue. She was unbelievably critical of me as a small child, an adolescent, and as a teenager. And not because I had done something worthy of being critical of. But rather just of my existence. How I looked, how I dressed, how I ate, how I talked. You name it, she had something nasty to say about it. She caused a lot of emotional pain for both me, my mother, and other members of my family early in my life. And for many years, because of her position in the family, we just continued to accept it.
Until reading this book, I had thought that I was “over” that aspect of my childhood. But recently I’ve realized that one never really gets over emotional pain like that. Rather, they just learn to accept it and move on from it but in essence, it really never goes away. It’s always a part of us but we must CHOOSE to no longer let those words have power over us.
All of this has made me take a step back and remember how powerful words that I speak to others can be.
Now, I would never intentionally speak hatefully to others, TRYING to do damage. But sometimes I, like most people I think, can be guilty of speaking before I really evaluate the weight of my words.
If words spoken to me 20, 25, or 30 years ago are still in MY mind, how are MY words going to influence my children and future grandchildren decades from now? How do my words affect my friends and family? I want my words to build them up, not tear them down. I hope to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I want to bring light to their world. And to shelter my children from those who are intentionally cruel.
I think that one of the most powerful choices we can make in life is to let our “wounds” teach us to know better and to BE better. Not to define us but to inspire us. For me, I am reminded to speak with kindness. And to try to pause and really consider my words before I speak them.