The words we say can change the world. They can lift someone up to cloud nine. They can bring someone down to below zero. We know that. That is nothing new. But what I’ve been reminded of lately is it’s not just the words you say that matter, it’s how you say them. It’s really not hard to say nice things. The hard part is meaning them and conveying that. Ever received a back-handed compliment? Where the words coming out of the other person’s mouth are pleasant, but the context and tone are not so much. Or ever be in a busy store, people all around, and hear a child ask for a candy bar while waiting in line? Only to have the parent roll their eyes and nod a, “whatever, sure” while he/she continues on an important phone call. Or ever ask your spouse, mother, sister or friend a simple question during a stressful time and be shocked when their response is not what you’d expected. The words seemed fine, but the way they talked to you left a sour taste in your mouth. Or, better yet, ever been the one to snap at a loved one during a stressful time (or even not so stressful), only to feel horrible the minute you see their surprised face? Yes. Yes. Yes. I have been on both ends of every single scenario listed above and I will probably be on both ends many more times. I’m not perfect that’s for sure.
But what I hope to be more intentional about is the way I talk to people. I hope to look deep into their eyes when listening and remain fully engaged when possible. I hope to stop before I respond and ask myself, “Am I conveying what I want or is my bad day getting in the way of that?” Basically, I want to speak in love. I not only want the words out of my mouth to speak love, but the tone and the context. All of it. It’s really easy to be sweet and sincere and loving with I’m on a romantic candle-lit dinner date for two with my hubs. But when it’s 4 am and we’re dead tired, scrambling around to heat up milk and change diapers, it’s a little harder. And life is full of 4 am times. Boss yells at you at work – boyfriend broke up with you – child tests your limits one too many times – crazy lady in front of you slams on breaks. There everywhere.
So I hope to pause in those 4 am times. Pause and be grateful for the moment I’m in. Whatever that moment may be. Because it will soon pass. They all do. And I hope the words out of my mouth convey love. That’s my prayer for Georgia. That when she sees Mommy frustrated with Daddy, that Mommy chooses the hard choice of love. When she is asking a frazzled, late Mommy a million questions, that my answers will convey love in their tone. And that when she sees Mommy annoyed by some crazy driver, slow sales clerk, or hurt by a friend, that Mommy chooses to speak words of love. Not because she always wanted to. But because we are called to.
So I urge you to think about how you speak to your loved ones and the strangers on the street (or that annoying teenage trick-or-treater who rang your doorbell way to late and actually expected candy!). We’re all fighting a battle. And don’t just grit your teeth and utter some pleasant, meaningless line, that will probably pacify most. Speak intentionally. Speak with sincerity and love. Even with it’s the hard choice.