It was the end of the 2018 Opens and some of my friends and family promised me they would be there to watch my last workout. I looked at the clock and started to get anxious. My heat was next and they weren’t there yet. “Can you tell them to start later?” my friend asked in a text message.
The minutes kept rolling by. There was no sign of my friends and family. My group was called to the bars and I took one last glance around the gym. I didn’t see them. Hopefully they’ll make it before we finish the workout.
The workout began and I got through the first round. The reps increased with each round, so I knew I would fatigue. By the third round I was so tired I felt like I couldn’t go on. My breaths became shorter and quicker, and my body started to hurt. I still had a long way to go. It’s in moments like these I contemplate why I workout this hard. I start arguing with myself to keep going, but eventually my positive thoughts turn to negativity and I want to quit all over again.
Just when I looked at the clock to see how much time I had left, I heard my friends and family cheering for me. They made it! I heard familiar voices yelling my name, “You got this, Shanda!” and “Come on, Shan, let’s go!”
The sound of their cheering brought a “second wind.” At their encouragement, I began to push through the pain. I was able to continue to fight through the exhaustion. I knew I had people in my corner and they were there to cheer me on. How could I quit?
It was as easy as that. A few people decided to rally around me and cheer me through a tough workout and I finished stronger at the end than at the beginning.
I hear many people talk about the power of words, and it’s true. Words have power. And because they cost us nothing and they are unlimited, we throw them around and dole them out as if they mean nothing. But what if our words do cost us? And what about the words we choose not to speak? Have you ever thought about those?
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Can words truly cause someone to live or die? We may read this and wonder if words are that powerful, but let me give you some examples about the power words have.
If you go to the very first book of the Bible, you will see it all began with words. God said … the world was formed. God said … the earth was filled with every being. God said … and it was so.
In Acts, the apostles were stoned, rejected, killed and imprisoned all because of the words they spoke.
Words intimidate, strike fear, moves to tears, steals joy, separates friends, and brings disappointment (death).
Words encourage, makes brave, cheers on, keeps fighting, brings forgiveness, calms anger (life).
Words are powerful. But the ones we don’t speak are just as dangerous as the ones we speak that cause destruction.
In October of last year, I was scrolling my Facebook feed, when I noticed a post from a young lady I’ve known since she was a child. Her post seemed very depressing and hopeless. It seemed to go deeper than just having a bad day, so I decided to click on her profile and take a look. All of her recent posts were similar. Day after day, she posted memes, videos, and comments about how life was horrible and no one cared about her.
You know those moments in time that stick out? Those times you think about something that hits you hard and you know where you were standing when you thought it? You can remember what room you were in, and you can picture what you were doing when the thought hits you. This was that kind of moment. I was standing in my bedroom, folding a blanket and I told myself, “Send her a message to see how she’s doing. Check in on her.” I finished folding the blanket and I thought to myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” That was on a Tuesday.
On Saturday morning I had another unforgettable moment in my life. I was standing at my kitchen sink when my mother in law called me and told me the news: my little friend took her life the night before. The memory from a few days before came to my mind and I hung up as quickly as possible. Did I ever send that message? Sadly, the words I planned to say were never spoken.
I never sent her the message letting her know I see her pain. I never told her I believe God has good things for her if she’ll just trust Him. Maybe the words I was going to say would have given her that second wind to keep going one more day. Maybe the words I was going to say would have ignited her drive and kept her pushing past the pain of life and realizing she could get through. But I will never know because I never spoke the words.
I have a new golden rule I live by: If I think something positive about someone, I will speak it. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good to whom it is due, when it is in your power to give it.” If I like your shoes, I’m going to tell you. I’ve been to the grocery store and told strangers behind the counter I like their name on their name tags. I’ve told a guy at the bank I like his afro hairstyle (it was really cool, you guys). The words I say cost me nothing, but to the person hearing them they have so much worth.
Words have power. So many times we think good things about others but we won’t speak it, yet we are all too quick to speak the ones that tear down and cause division. Our words that give life and build up are the ones that may save others from making a mistake, giving up and could turn their sorrow to joy. Job 4:4 says, “Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.” That’s the kind of power our words have.
This blog site is called Mirror Mirror, but I’d like to challenge us today to step away from the mirror. Stop caring so much for ourselves and what we look like and how people can build us up, and think about the ones we see face to face in our daily lives. How can we build them up? How can we change the world today, one positive word at a time?
There is a very challenging verse from the Bible that says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 This is so hard! Valuing others above ourselves?!? That goes against everything in our culture today. But it can be done, or God wouldn’t have put it in His word.
As I leave you today, I’d like to pose a challenge: when you think something positive about someone, speak it. Tell them. If you need to apologize, say, “I’m sorry.” If you love someone, say, “I love you.” If someone has a nice hairstyle, tell them. Build others up and don’t stay silent. Your words hold the power of life and death. Give life and I promise you will change the world one word, one person at a time.
Please let me know if you complete the challenge this week. I would love to hear from you and know that together, we are partnering to change the world with words that give life. Have a great today!