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“A person’s words can be a source of wisdom, deep as the ocean, fresh as the flowing stream.” - Proverbs 18:4

You're lazy! You're stupid! You're selfish! Harsh statements, but insert an additional word between them, and the recipient is transformed immediately from a flawed state of existence into a temporary loss of good character. You're acting lazy. You're acting stupid. You're acting selfish…

We all know we can control these behaviors, but do we? Can we? One thing is certain - we're much more likely to attempt to if we are confident that others' perceptions of us are not as harsh as the statements with the missing words.

Personally, I've been blessed to have experienced a life on the other end of the verbal spectrum. My parents rarely (if ever) raised their voice or used words that made me doubt how amazing I believed I was. Oops- that sounds like conceit!  Definitely not a character trait that endears itself to others. Narcissism is a word that's used a lot these days, but its overuse just may be describing not one individual but society in general. Our words create. They produce. They hurt. And heal.

Make a point to be more aware of how your words affect friends, family and coworkers. Understand and reflect on the words you hear others say to you. What do they really mean? I once told a friend that couldn't understand my perspective on a controversial subject that,"I have an open mind.".  He replied, "Don't open your mind so much that your brains fall out!".  I also recall a smart pastor once telling the congregation that the first thing a person should do when entering an argument or debate is admit that they just might actually be wrong.  Those words spoke directly to me and I work hard to apply them.  If I had heard other words than the encouraging and effective ones used, I wouldn't have reflected and grown. I wouldn't have received the life giving water our God wanted for me. He wanted me to bathe in the refreshing, flowing stream of His Word - spoken through others. Affirming. Cleansing. Supportive. Loving!!

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to use our words in ways that demonstrate Your plan and love for us.  Also, help us to hear Your Word through the voices and actions of others.  Amen.