Monday, January 11, 2010
Words are so very powerful. You can encourage, elevate and enlighten with a single statement. They can also be used in the negative to devastate, discourage and destroy. And sometimes words are used by a lamebrain to set off a mind-boggling sequence of events without any intention or forethought. If you've followed any of my previous escapades, it’s not hard to figure out what category I fall into.
A perfect example would be the day that my dog Chopper ran off with my freshly washed socks. I chased him outside and around the backyard. Chopper thought we were playing a game of tag and (as usual) I was “IT.” The closer I would get the faster the little chimp would run, giggling with his eyes, taunting me in his game of chase. I finally lost my patience after a few dizzying rounds through the patio furniture and yelled out, “DROP IT MONKEYBOY!!!” Unfortunately at the very moment the words left my mouth, in perfect timing like a synchronized swimmer, the trashman was lifting the garbage bag out of my can. I was totally unprepared to deal with the fact that the trashman would think I was yelling at him! We all froze like, well...like monkeys. In my state of shock the only thing I could think to say with a weak little smile was, “I like monkeys??” He was not amused. I couldn't stop to explain myself any further when I had a sock thief to catch.
I wanted to make up for my outburst. I tried to think of a note I could write: “Dear Sir: you are not a monkey. You are more like a bear.” Hmmm, I’m pretty sure that was a compliment but it was just too weird. My second attempt: “Dear Sir: You are doing a great job. I was not yelling at you, I was yelling at my dog.” Nope, I sounded like a crazy lady who yells at sweet little puppies. Instead I decided to try and encourage him the next time he came to my house with a wave, a thumbs up and cheerful chant of “Nice work!” The following week he transferred out of my neighborhood.
After that day I started to think about the consequences of a single statement. Words should not pop out of my mouth randomly like candy from a gumball machine. Psalm 19:14 says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight. Oh Lord, my Strength and My Redeemer." That says a lot. Meditate on things that are positive, healing and encouraging. Then when the words roll out from the overflow of the heart they are words that bring life and love. I’m a bit more cautious with words now, at least as far as how I use them in my neighborhood. Our mailman’s nickname is Rabbit, but you'll never hear me calling him that!