Last week I found myself sitting in an ER waiting room at 11pm. It wasn’t for me. It wasn’t for anyone in my family. Actually it wasn’t even for the patient I was technically there to see. It was for a mama.
This mama is light years ahead of me in the experience department. Her children are grown and she’s become mama (or should I say grand-mama) to the next generation. She didn’t give birth to all of her brood, but they are all hers, nonetheless. Her heart knows it. Her actions speak it. Her mama scars prove it.
I sat there as she poured out her heart. The loves. The hurts. The joys. The fears. Some of the struggles I know all too well, others I hope I never face. And my heart connected with hers. After many stories, some laughter, a lot of “I don’t knows”…I was able to place my hand on her back and look her in the eyes and utter some VERY. SIMPLE. WORDS. Words that I meant with every fiber of my being. Words that, although easy for me to say, were difficult for her to hear and/or accept:
YOU ARE A GREAT MOM. YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB.
And then tears.
My heart broke to realize how rarely she may hear those words. Because they are true. She is a great mom. But like all moms, she’s incredibly hard on herself. People, even family, have made her feel inferior to the person God ordained her to be. The world has bombarded her with unrealistic expectations, and the discouragement of it all was crushing.
But the words were so simple.
Most words are simple. The kind ones as well as the hateful ones. The only difference is that one type brings life and love and healing to an already battered soul and the other cuts and wounds and bleeds out pain. But both are simple to speak. Sadly, it is often the hurtful words that flow like butter. The deliverer often feels justified and as though they have an obligation to set a person on the right path. Somewhere along the line they took it upon themselves to work the Holy Spirit out of His job of lovingly convicting and molding a person’s spirit.
Proverbs 18:21 (The Message) says,
“Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit — you choose.”
*Note: do not think that I am against correction. However, loving correction and hateful attacks are two very different things. And many, MANY people have never learned the difference. Hateful, harsh criticism (both to a person’s face and behind their back) is poison. It produces hurt and anger. It destroys trust. It breeds only bitterness. No life can flourish in this. Loving words give life. Even loving criticism if it is truth, spoken in love, can be fruitful. Fruit is refreshing. There is life in it. It can be taken by the hearer and used to nourish and grow the person in health and wisdom.
But kind words. Simple words. Sometimes they have no greater purpose than to sooth the aching heart and the wavering soul and the hopeless being. Sometimes they have no greater purpose than to wrap someone in love, and if I’m not mistaken, that’s just the greatest commandment God gave to each of us. To Love.
I know this personally. Although I did not recognize it immediately. The Holy Spirit has brought two women into my life in the last few months who have been used to speak words of life into my battered soul. They do not know each other. Neither of these ladies even live in Texas. One I knew from childhood. Another from a time of transition many years ago. But they entered my circle, slowly at first. Cautiously. A trait that ALL pastor’s wives learn painfully from Day 1.
And they have spoken love. They have spoken life. They have spoken encouragement into situations they know very little, if nothing, about. These women have taken my soul in a season of intense struggle and hurt and have soothed it, nurtured it, tenderly cared for it. They have prayed for me when my lips had nothing left to utter. They have extended the love of Jesus even when they didn’t know it. They have done this completely through words. And prayer.
So what is the point of all of this? The point is:
It Needs To Be Said
The compliment about the stranger’s cute haircut. The rallying “you’ve got this” to the woman questioning her position. The “you can do its” and the “awesome jobs” and the “you are AMAZINGs” that are whispered into your heart during the day. It needs to be said. They need to exit your lips and enter the ears of the unsuspecting child (because aren’t we all?) that Jesus wants to hug on today. These things need to be said. Be His arms outstretched. And those arms are to embrace. To love. To nurture. Not to hurt and push and wrestle.
We are called to love and our words (and accompanying actions) speak loudly, even when whispered. It needs to be said.