Have you ever accidentally found out that someone said something hurtful about you or someone you love, and it left a mark? Maybe you are like me and your mind starts racing, trying to justify why this person made you their punchline… Was it personal? Were they just trying to be cool around their friends? Language is a very powerful force in my life. It sticks with me, for better or for worse. That might be why I still feel a sting a year and a half later when I remember what that one person said that one time as a tasteless joke.
To skip ahead, yes, this certainly served as a reminder for me to be careful what I say about others because “you never know” who might hear it and pass it along. But God has been speaking to me a in a new way these past few weeks as we are looking at the five love languages in the context of learning to “Love Your Enemy, and Really Mean It.” For this final week of this sermon series, we will talk about Words of Affirmation.
Surprisingly, Words of Affirmation is not my “primary” love language. But just this week I experienced how truly healing honest affirmation can be when a close friend of mine helped me to see how God is using my life to bless others around me in a time when I was a little uncertain of my worth. It renewed my spirit and shifted my focus from all of the things I count as failures to all the things I can achieve. One comparatively small conversation pivoted my perspective in an important way.
We live in a culture where virtually everyone has been the “punchline” at some point. It’s unfortunate, demoralizing, and not what God wants for us. What if we meet that negativity with affirmation? What if we could shift the perspective merely by offering words of encouragement at every opportunity? I believe if we share confidence and support with those around us, whether they are our friends, our family or our enemies, we will see a tangible difference in the way we interact with one another and the way we feel about ourselves.
Here’s a simple way to start: gratitude. When someone does something that you appreciate, tell them you appreciate it. Express how they made a positive difference in your life. It will be an inspiring and renewing gift to both of you. What are other ways God can use you to speak love into the world?
Beth Armstrong, Director of Adult Ministries