I am a connoisseur of words.
I love them. I love to listen to them; I love to play with them; I love to combine them to create images in the minds of the people who listen. I love words. Not only do I feel love easily through written and verbal expression, it is one of the ways I express love. With that love for words, I am also easily hurt by their power when they are used as a weapon. I have a family member who is skilled in the art of word slinging and often uses them to cut down instead of lifting others up. I love that person, but it can be very difficult to spend any length of time with them.
As a stay at home mom of three incredibly loud children, my words often go unheard or unheeded. I have tried to teach my children the value of recognizing other’s feelings and showing kindness. When they talk over me, it feels like a slap in the face. Of course, not everyone feels the same way I do. I am still learning how to be a better mom each day. I do recognize that words are powerful and that I must always be cautious about the messages that cross my lips.
We can choose what we say each day. We choose how we respond to the needs around us. Sometimes I envision a vending machine in my head when I need to respond to a behavior and don’t quite know how to do it. I press the arrow button to look at the next option of spinning responses from which I get to choose any combination of phrases. I see categories pass in front of me such as anger, impatience, chastisement, jealousy, and revenge spinning around first. But there is one category that is always the right one. It is simply entitled, Love.
When I have a child crying because they broke something on accident, my response will come from Love. When my child is hurting and lashes out at everyone else, that child needs love. When I am frazzled at the end of the day and feeling like I am simply not good enough, this momma needs not to choose from the plethora of words that belittle, I also need love.
The Savior was a perfect example of responding with love. Whether He expressed it in words or showed it through His works, I know that I can do better at following His example in using my words to lift, love and strengthen.
Look a little deeper
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley addressed the saints in a message given years ago and offered a challenge. He said, “I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we [stop] the sounds of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.”1
I have an incredibly strong spirit in my home and we often rub each other the wrong way. I do recognize that I need to use words often with him, three words to be precise; I Love You. We all need reminders throughout the days and the weeks that we are loved. I choose to use those words more often to lift the hands that hang down, to bind up the broken-hearted and to strengthen the feeble knees. May we all reach out in love more fully to those in our circle of influence and use the words that can overcome any obstacle and mend any heart.
- “The Continuing Pursuit of Truth,” Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, 1986, 2.