Do Your Words Speak Life?
At our campus ministry group meeting on Tuesday, we heard a message on Ephesians 4:29 and how powerful words are. Nick spoke about how words can build up or tear down, and as a community it is important to speak life and encouragement to one another. He talked about how words can corrupt and hurt others so easily, but speaking hope to one another lifts and strengthens the body.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
This message hit home with me. It reminded me of my past, my childhood, and the many ways words molded and shaped me.
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating Disorders are so close to my heart, because I battled with one myself. I fought the fight, and by God’s grace, I won. But it wasn’t an easy battled. If you don’t believe words have power, you need to understand that even the most innocent words do. Even the smallest comment or joke can cut others so deep.
When I was in middle school, I payed zero attention to what I ate. I didn’t care at all, which for me, was such a healthy mindset to have. But that changed when people around me started to call me “fat”. I felt horrible, defeated, inadequate.
And the words continued.
I became the punch line of jokes, torn down based on how my body looked instead of the person I was.
So I became defensive.
And in my defensiveness, I became judgmental.
If I was fat and I had flaws that others could point out so freely, then I would do the same. I judged others based on how they looked to make myself feel better for how they saw me.
But that wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t stand being the punch line of every joke or being told to watch what I eat at family gatherings, so I lost the weight. I became obsessed with food and exercise. I called myself a “foodie” to make up for the fact that all I thought about was what I was eating.
I learned what macronutrients are and how much I should eat of carbs, fat, and protein every day. I learned how to read food labels and I started eating differently. I also started exercising more and more and eventually my curvy size 8 fell to a tiny size 0.
But the words didn’t stop. They just changed.
Instead of being told to watch what I eat, they told me to eat more. Or they told me how great I looked and wondered how I lost so much weight. They asked what my secret was, and the fact that I was getting praise for my tiny body encouraged me to continue my disordered patterns. Little did they know their words were feeding my disorder.
But praise the Lord for my mother, a woman who loves her body the way it is and doesn’t care what others think of it. She recognized my hurt and pain. She was the one who hugged me when I broke down and finally told her what I was struggling with. She was the one who defended me when those words cut me so deep. She was the one who held me and said, “I know it isn’t okay now, but know you are so much more than what you look like and it’ll be okay soon”.
And that was exactly what I needed to hear. Her words spoke life to my brokenness, and encouraged me in ways I hadn’t been before. I finally heard someone noticing my heart, not just how I looked on the outside. That day, the day my mom said that to me, was the first day in a long time I felt myself again. It was the first day I didn’t stress about my meal or see a distorted image in the mirror. Her words of life encouraged me and helped me begin my recovery.
Their words had power and Your words have power too.
You choose whether your words will build others up or tear them down.
Let your words speak life to others. Remember that you do not know what someone is struggling with inside. Even the slightest hurtful word could cut someone so deep, so choose to speak life. Speak encouragement. Speak hope. Get to know people’s hearts and speak words that build them up where they are at.
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