How Do You Use Words?

Lynn came into my office in tears. After she described her day, I understood. Just listen to the comments she heard throughout the day:
“Are you going to eat all that? You really have to watch your figure you know.”
“You can’t wear that shirt. It shows too much mid-rift. Are you trying to look easy?”
“You forgot your homework again. You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached”
“You never listen to me.
“How could you go out? You don’t care about us at all…you are so selfish!”
“You always have an excuse. Well, I don’t need your excuses… Just do it.” 
“Having a bad hair day, are we?”
“Those pants don’t go with that shirt.”
“You run funny.”
“Sit down and shut up.”
The list goes on. Comments made by friends, family members, and teachers in a variety of situations…not one encouraging or constructive word. No wonder she was upset. Her friends, family members, and teachers had hurled words at her like stones, crushing her heart and mind under the weight of discouragement and belittling comments. Our homes need to provide a place of shelter from the verbal barrage of ridicule and discouragement. An honor-filled family offers a safe haven from the word bullets of discouragement that pierce our hearts and minds.
Encourage Your Spouse identifies five ways to encourage…not just your spouse but your whole family. Let’s look at each one in detail.
·         Inspire with Hope: Comments such as “You’re doing a great job” or “You are becoming such a nice young lady” inspire us with hope for tomorrow. Comments that provide hope also encourage. Hope gives us strength to carry on, even when times are rough. So, encourage with comments that inspire hope and help your family look toward a positive future.
·         Fortify with Faith: We can build one another up with comments that communicate “I believe in you.” For instance, telling a child “I know it’s hard, but you can do it. Let me know if you need some help” lets them know you have faith in their ability. Even establishing an encouraging expectation can build up a realization that you have faith in them. For instance, saying “I know you can do better than that on your homework” when you know they only did a half-hearted job communicates that you have faith in a greater ability than they exhibited. Encourage family members to live up to their ability by using kind, encouraging words.
·         Foster with Love: We can use encouraging words of love to nurture family members and develop positive character. Let family members know the depth of your love by expressing appreciation for their deeds and character, joy over their presence in our lives, and gratitude for their contribution to your life. Let your love encourage positive growth in their lives as well. 
·         Uplift with Prayer: It is so very encouraging to know that family members pray for you…that they hold you, your interests, and your struggles in mind and bring them before God for His assistance. Let family members know you pray for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Lift them up in vocal prayer before meals or at bedtime. Let them hear you pray for them. Share your own prayer requests with family as well. Together you can lift one another up in prayer.
·         Support with Actions: Use your actions to express your love and support for their lives. Encourage family members by serving them, communicating that they are valuable enough to serve. Show an interest in their interests, become involved in their life’s pursuit, and support their dreams with positive action. These actions encourage others by expressing value and love.
Lynn’s day would have gone very differently had she come into my office after a day of receiving encouraging messages. Each of us plays a role in “making” or “breaking” the day of our family members. So, use your words to encourage rather than discourage, to lift up rather than pull down, to build rather than crush.

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