Our Words are so important, and I don’t think that we realize just how big of an impact they can have on people. The words that we say can have lasting effects on those who hear them. Like wise the words we hear can have lasting effects on us. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof“. We all produce fruit with our words, and we will reap either the benefits or consequences of our words.
It doesn’t take much to leave a lasting impression. A few critical words can produce perfectionism in our lives that can drive us in a variety of unhealthy ways. For me, a memory that I remember very clearly is a time in which my step-dad, Jon, had asked me to do a chore…a few minutes later he came back to tell me to do a second chore. Then yet again a few more minutes went by and he came back to give me a third chore to do, and got mad and frustrated that I hadn’t finished the first two chores. I was too slow, and should have been finished according to him. To be honest, I don’t remember everything that he said to me over the years; I just remember how I felt. Not just his words, but his body language told me: I couldn’t do things good enough; something would always be lacking. After all not everyone could be as brilliant as he was. You see, He sees himself as being far superior to those around him. I felt unwanted and alone. I wanted to feel like I was worthy of approval. This atmosphere fostered in me a sense of perfectionism. Which can work in one of two ways: (1) you work really hard to become an over achiever and (2) you become paralyzed and don’t try. Starting in my pre-teen and teen years (probably even earlier) I worked so hard to be perfect…to fix everything. It took a huge toll on my health, and I ended up in my late teens through my early 20’s having a lot of stomach issues. My body could no longer handle the stress and pressure of what was going on in my life. The older I’ve gotten the more my perfectionism paralyzes me. A chore or task will get so worked up in my mind to impossible standards that there is no way that I or anyone else would be able to preform at the level at which I hold myself accountable to. My own standards upon myself shuts me down, and I seek to be distracted from it. So, in times past, I have developed addiction cycles with watching t.v and with being on the Internet (mainly playing farmvile on facebook). The more overwhelmed I felt the more I sought to hide from it, and the more I hid from it the more over whelmed I felt. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Over the years I have learned to tell when I start to feel like I’m going to shut down, and have learned how to take it one step at a time to keep from shutting down. I’m not perfect at it, but at least I’m working on it and making improvements.
Another instance of the impact of words in my life would be yet another example of something my step-dad, Jon, said to me only a few times. He told me that he likes the out side lane on the highway because if someone tries to side swipe him/come into his lane he has an out/room to move to avoid being hit. Where as in the other lanes you can get boxed in with no where to go. I don’t care much for driving on the highway or in traffic for that matter. When I’m surrounded by cars I start to feel a bit claustrophobic. I feel invisible and fear tries to work it’s way in…that no one will see that I’m there and come into my lane and hit me. Granted some of these feelings probably come from feeling invisible most of my life, but his words triggered this particular fear of being surrounded by vehicles. When I get nervous my hands sweat which only makes me more nervous if I’m the one driving. If I’m not the one driving I’ll hold onto my seat belt for dear life, or put my foot down like I’m stepping on the breaks, or how about this one…holding onto the door. My hands begin to sweat and my heart rate goes up. I feel a loss of control when I’m not the one driving and it scares me. As a teenager when ever I got out of the car, when my step-dad had been driving, I would swear to myself that I would never get back into a car with him again. His “aggressive” driving scared me, and I constantly thought that we were going to get into accidents. I have realized lately just how out of balance this “fear” has gotten, and it’s something that I’m going to have to remedy.
I want to give just one more example. I could give lots of examples…I’ve heard things that have affected the way I view eating, things about myself, and my life. This example comes from something my mom has told me. I don’t want to get graphic, so I’ll just say that I know more about the circumstances surrounding my conception than anyone should ever know (Now, here’s a note: what I’m considering graphic most of you probably wouldn’t consider graphic or not that graphic, but it’s enough to gross me out). I know my dad had a five year waiting plan for kids, and that I was born before this five year plan was complete. I know that my mom wanted to have kids so bad that she was probably suffering from depression from not getting pregnant as fast as she had wanted. I know my mom meant no harm, but the things that she has told me left me feeling like I was unplanned and unwanted by my dad. I feared upsetting my dad, and that doing so would cause him to take his love and approval away from me forever. My parents divorced when I was two, and as far back as I can remember I have always been afraid of hurting my dad’s feelings and of him taking his love away from me. I don’t know at what age my mom started telling me about his five year plan and my conception, but I know that I was probably pre-teen or a teenager. I believe that somewhere I heard or was given the impression that I could lose my dad’s love and approval forever at the youngest of ages. I may not have the memories to prove it, but I have a life time of fear that had to have been placed there somehow. It affected my relationship with my dad in that I didn’t feel like I could be open and honest with him. I didn’t feel like I could go to him in times of trouble and difficulties…let alone for help when life was a living hell.
Words speak life and death into lives. We have to learn to accept words that are spoken to us that speak life into our lives, and how to cancel out the words that speak death and destruction into our lives. I believe that everyone knows the pain of having hurtful and destructive things spoken to them. If we all take a good look at our lives we can see not only how words have shaped our lives, but how they have shaped us…our personality, and how we deal with things. So, please remember the pain hurtful words have caused you, and choose to speak life into the lives of others and into your own life as well. We can choose to accept or to cancel out what has been spoken to us and over us. Pain doesn’t go away over night, but with persistence and a healing hand from the Lord we can be made whole again.