Monday Manifesto #9: I Will Speak Life
Most women I know want to be the kind of friend, wife, mom, coworker, etc, who is known for giving people strength, courage and hope. I want that too. And the coolest tool at our disposal is the ordinary, everyday WORD. Nouns, verbs, pronouns and participles are a veritable treasure trove of LIFE (except I’m not really sure what participles are, or do, or want to become.)
Courage comes wrapped in language.
Strength is packaged in sentences.
I know you know this. I know I know it. But it’s easy for it to get lost somewhere between coffee and the carpool lane: Words matter. They have the power to heal and harm, pierce or protect.
When my husband was dying, I stumbled out my door one morning, desperate for coffee and proof that life was out there somewhere. Pulling into the parking lot at Starbucks, I grazed the bumper of the car in the next space. I wanted to lay my head on my steering wheel and sob, but the owner of the car was coming at me fast. I got out and approached him apologetically, “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I hit your car on my way in.” He looked at the scrape on his car - which already had a fair number of dents and dings - looked back at me and said, “Ah, don’t worry about it.”
I shook my head, still holding back tears and argued that I needed to fix it. He smiled and patted my arm and said something I’ll never forget.
“It seems like you have plenty to worry about today. I’d like my car to not be one of them.”
His words were such a gift. They were life on a death day. They were strength and hope that people were kind and God was watching and could see into my overwhelmed heart.
Recently, I ordered a sandwich at an airport fast food restaurant. The lady behind the counter was at least 20 years older than most of the employees, but her tired face held lovely gray-blue eyes. I thought to tell her, but decided it would be weird. She took my order and, though she was kind, she was clearly overwhelmed and seemed heavy with sadness. As she handed my change back to me, I remembered something I’ve said to men-friends of mine before: It never hurts to hear that you’re pretty. And so I said it. Stuffing my dollar bills in my backpack, I said, “Do people tell you all the time that you have the most beautiful eyes? Because you really do.” She gave me an embarrassed and happy thank you and I thought of the verse, “Don’t withhold good when it’s in your power to give it.” I had the power in that moment and I almost didn’t use it.
I actually withhold good all the time. I don’t want to get into long conversations. I don’t want people to think I’m being all flattery (flattery-ish?). I sometimes just don’t want to give my approval out freely. But when I let the words push up from my heart and out through my lips I almost always experience that magical moment when I realize: This world is hard, the journey is long, but I just partnered with God in giving a gift to a fellow sojourner. it’s beautiful and I want to use my words for life this week.
Toward that end, I’m choosing these talking points for my manifesto this week:
-I will speak peace into situations instead of fear.
-I will speak life into people instead of death.
-I will speak hope into hearts instead of harm.
-I will speak gratitude into difficult days instead of negativity.
-My words can be bullets or band aids. I will choose them wisely.
-I will encourage one coworker every day this week.
-I will tell my spouse, “You’re doing great at ________________.”
-I will tell each of my children something specific I love about them.
-I will say something encouraging and life giving to my own self each morning when I look in the mirror.
These are your words, sister. Use them well. Light your world up with life!
And - hey! - we want to help you remember the statements that will shoot hope into your world, so we’ve created beautiful phone screensavers for you! Go to @she.ology and check them out on our stories and take a screenshot of your favorite(s)!