I did not come from an environment from which compliments or positive statements were free flowing. In fact even the words I love you were not spoken a lot. If you were told good job for something it was a rare thing. It seemed to me the expectation was you just did what you were supposed to. “I hate you and I wish you were dead” were phrases commonly uttered from my own mouth towards my sister and parents. The last time my own Dad told me he loved me was when he came to visit me in a hospital room when I was a freshman in high school after I had attempted suicide. Never heard it since and don’t think I ever will the rest of my life.
I wanted to be told I was loved and valued, that I mattered. Deep within the inter recesses of my mind I longed for my Dad to hold me and tell me I was everything he had hoped for and more. Instead I have spent most of my life wishing that would come true even to this day, the reality is that it will never happen.
In my 20’s and even into my early 30’s I was very negative. I had an extremely negative outlook on life. I didn’t have many nice things to say to others. I could tear you apart with my words in a heartbeat. I actually got some morose satisfaction if I could make people cry. Even as a supervisor in my jobs I counted it as a good thing if I had to speak to you and you cried. These things I am neither proud of or do I think make you very humane.
The first year my wife and I got married was not fun, I look back now and realize how negative and horrible I was and am amazed she stuck it out with me. I certainly did little to show her she meant the world to me. We were involved in our church and even that didn’t seem to change my views on others. I was asked to start leading a Small Group of post college/married couples. I took this on as a challenge as I was going to change these people. I couldn’t have been more wrong, actually God had a bigger plan for me, one that I hadn’t really imagined.
As I lead this group of folks I began getting convicted of how I looked, treated and spoke to others. One day out of the blue I read a couple of passages in the bible in regards to our words which have changed my life forever:
Ephesians 4:29 “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.”
Romans 15:2 “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
1Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Those words pierced my heart, while I continued to read these words again and again it was as if God was speaking directly into my heart. I couldn’t shake it. Another huge piece I firmly believe God used in changing me was with the other men in my group. Like myself they were becoming fathers for the first time and we all made a commitment we would stop making sexual innuendos about everything and telling raunchy jokes. We would start saying things that were positive and built each other up. We were committed to holding each other accountable to these words. It worked far greater than I ever realized it would.
Through the years I have discovered the impact of words on others. I started with my kids and have moved on to everyone I come in contact with. I continually tell my own kids, your words can hurt and damage others or you can say things that help people feel good about themselves and help them have a better day. There’s a ripple effect that can occur, good or bad.
When I am speak with others I want them to feel good about themselves. I want the words I speak from my mouth to help you feel good, cared about and supported. I want you to know that you matter to me and that even when things are hard to deal with, we can talk through them. Personally the best thing I have ever seen is someone’s demeanor and countenance change and lifted because I took the time to give them a compliment, encouraged them and let them know I deeply care about them.
Those words and how I interact with other has changed my entire life as a man, husband, father, boss and person in general. I hope all the words I say encourage and build up those around me. You never know what kind of day someone is having and I would rather they had a great day than be the one to say something that sends them over the edge.
I have taken it upon my own personal mission to tell people how much I care about them, how much they mean to me and why I enjoy them. I don’t want a day to go by where I don’t say how much someone means or that I care. Life is to short to waste and not positively impact those around us. Bigger picture, maybe if we all gave out more compliments instead of looking for finding fault, the world we be uniquely different.
What about you? How do you use words to impact those around you?