I stayed for 3 weeks with my sister in Dallas in May of this year. It was a holiday in its truest form because we didn’t plan on doing anything at all – purely rest and relaxation. I took that opportunity to catch up on sleep, try new recipes, watch movies, learn a new piano piece, and read. One day I found an old book in her garage: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book says that there are 5 languages to express our love: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Then at the end of the book was a questionnaire for one to find out what his love language is. I answered the questions. Twice. And the results were the same. My love language is words of affirmation.
I feel loved when I receive texts, emails, and messages for no special reason, or when my husband says encouraging words to me. I especially like it when I hear him say how much I mean to him. This is true for husband-and-wife relationships but I think it is also true for other relationships, like between a parent and a child, or between friends.
In Proverbs 18 it says that “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Life words encourage our spouses, children, and friends towards productive behavior and inspire them to be successful, while death words discourage, disillusion, and cripple them.
In Ephesians 4:29 we read, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Granting there may be occasions when I needed to be corrected because of my insufficiency or insubordination, the choice of words or the manner of saying them may be inappropriate, or it may not always be the opportune time to do so. As the verse says, “according to the need of the moment.”
Several weeks ago, I met a wonderful man, my teacher in one of my subjects in school. He was soft-spoken, knew exactly what words to say or not to say, was gracious, and diplomatic. He was a breath of fresh air. Sadly, we may not always be a recipient of that same kind of graciousness or interact with the same kind of people. Some of us may have been bruised and shot by abusive words and negative comments or actions.
There are some people who get a high out of making comments to offend others. The saddest thing was when a friend actually believed what they said. And because my love language is words of affirmation, hurtful words also deeply affect me. Now I’ve come to realize that I cannot control what people say or believe. The only thing within my control is how I respond.
I am reminded of a verse which says, “Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:28)
To say that that is difficult would be an understatement. I am accountable to God for every word that comes out of my mouth. Whenever I have negative thoughts, I have to ask myself, “Will God be honored if my reactions are motivated by pride?” Oh Lord, please forgive me. Thank you for giving me a divine perspective. Please help me change for the better and may You be glorified in my life.
I submit that there are a lot of areas in my life that I need to change and improve on. Everyday I make mistakes, I confess. But thanks be to God because He is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.”
If unkind words are said to me, and malicious things are said about me, I will just have to remind myself how special I am in the sight of the Lord. Even if nobody ever says that I am precious, the Lord surely looks at me as such.
When words hurt, I don’t have to even the score. The truth that God loves me should hold me so firmly that I can speak life words to others and be gracious even when people say words to discourage and hurt me.