Words have weight. That much we can all acknowledge. Whether you are still hanging on to that compliment from your second-grade teacher or harboring resentment towards people who gossiped about you, people's words affect who we are at the core of our being.
Words that we believe about ourselves can cause us to live in shame or in freedom. Words we speak to others can condemn or uplift them.
In short, the words we use to describe ourselves and others have value.
And when something has value, we want to invest it, to spend it, in ways that will reflect its worth. We wouldn't throw hundreds of dollars away on something simple like a box of tissues. Instead, we would use it to purchase something more important, like a down payment on a home.
So, if our words have value, doesn't it make sense that we invest them in things that reflect how valuable they are?
It starts with you.
In Matthew 15:18, Jesus explains to Peter that "the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart" and show the purity of a person. If you fill your mind and heart with thoughts that are selfish or ones that point out flaws in others, your words will reflect that. But if you cultivate thought patterns that notice the good in people, that focus on bringing joy, and that inspire people, your words will point out the good, create joy, and inspire others.
Start with intentionality.
It's one thing if your naturally positive thoughts come out in your way of life; in fact, you might be known as a really nice person. But let's take that one step further — to kindness. Kindness implies a deeper level of thought and consideration than simply being nice. It takes intentionality to evaluate whether your words will be helpful or hurtful. It takes even more to choose the helpful words over hurtful ones, and still more intentionality to speak them gently, with love.
It takes intentionality to guide conversation into uplifting places. It means shutting down gossip and asking deeper questions. It means caring about the person and his or her answers, not what you would rather say.
It's easy to be nice by default, but kindness requires intentionality.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
You know that phrase "talk is cheap"? It comes from the way that people can talk a good game, but never follow through in action. Essentially, they don't mean what they say. As a result, their words and promises mean less because they can't be trusted.
On the other hand, if your words line up with your actions, your words carry more weight because they are trustworthy.
Write letters or notes.
On a practical note, one way to invest your words well is by writing letters or notes!
Remember when you were little and you got to exchange valentines with your friends and classmates, or maybe your mom tucked little notes in your lunch box, or maybe you dreamed of an S.O. who would write love letters? Well, the truth is that everyone could use a love letter in their life.
My current project involves 70+ index cards and my favorite pen. My plan is to write an encouraging note and cute doodle to each girl living on the hall of my dorm. Some people haven't reacted, but other girls have shared how much they loved receiving caring words from someone.
Bottom line: Your words have value, so invest them in people.