Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Most of us have heard this phrase countless times, but its message couldn’t be further from the truth. We know that words are, in fact, able to hurt us. What we speak to one another has the power either to do good or to do harm, and it’s therefore essential for us to be mindful of the things we speak to each other. It sounds so simple, but shouldn’t it be a constant goal in our relationships to build others up with life-affirming encouragement and love rather than tear them down with gossip, criticism and negative speech?
I have one friend in particular who excels at this, and who has taught me the value of speaking kind and grace-filled words. She never fails to seek the good in others, and she is quick to pour out genuine, heartfelt compliments to all whom she meets. In our friendship, her positive words have given me hope and encouragement more times than I can count. Just knowing how much she values and supports me gives me immense confidence in who I am and leaves me feeling uplifted and capable.
Scottish author George Macdonald seemed to understand this power when he wrote: “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” Telling a friend what we see and love about them affirms their worth and also helps them to recognize and embrace their best and most beautiful qualities.
Of course, I understand that it is seldom the most natural thing to speak aloud the good thoughts we have about others. It is often easiest to hold onto our judgments and criticisms instead. When we adjust our attitudes, however, and work to cultivate hearts of truth and edification, we will discover the truth in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”
So ladies, let’s make it a habit to speak words that encourage, build up, inspire, challenge, and comfort. Let us point out the positive qualities in our friends and praise them for their strengths, affirming the character traits that we appreciate so much and so often take for granted.