We underestimate the power of our words. How often do we tear people down, even those we're closest to, and justify it as being "funny." Maybe if we add a quick "just kidding" after a degrading commend, it'll amend what we've just said. But that's not how it works. Damaging words can be some of our deepest scars and they don't fade as fast as we tell ourselves they do. Words, whether hurtful or encouraging, stay with us long after they've been spoken.
I know I've said things in the past that I instantly wish I could take back or erase. And I remember things said to me that still sting a little bit. The power of what we speak is greater than what we credit. And this matters.
I once heard a speaker say that when he was young, a teacher told him that he didn't have a nice smile and should be placed in the back of the class picture. He refused to smile in pictures for the next twenty years.
Words have power. They can build people up or they can tear them down. We've all heard this before, but how often do we act like this actually matters? Only you can control the words that you choose to speak and you dictate the effect your words have.
Our remarks can restore relationships or break them; unite people or divide; affirm others or demoralize them; crumble down barriers or keep them standing tall.
I know this is probably nothing new, but regardless of how many times we are reminded, it often goes in one ear and out the other. The way you treat people and speak to them matters--regardless of how they speak to you or what they've done in the past. Especially as a Christian, the way I treat people and speak to them reflects what I really believe and how seriously I take my faith. We can't pick and choose the pieces of our faith we want to live by.
But no matter your faith or beliefs, treating others with respect is the least we can do in light of cultural and social tension that surrounds us. Speaking words that bring life and peace is a small, but powerful way to transform the world we live in.
Our words have impact and they are not easily forgotten. However, it doesn't have to be a negative impact or leave an invisible scar. Words can be life-changing in the best way and remind people that they are valuable. We have the power to dictate which legacy our words leave behind.