Out of the blue I received a gift from a friend this week. It wasn’t a candle or a bar of chocolate or a gift card, it was the gift of words. That unexpected gift has caused me to pause and think a little more on the potential of words to help or harm.
Growing up, I often experienced words as weapons, shot at me with anger, bitterness, or wrapped in sarcasm (which are word bullets thinly disguised as a joke). From an early age, I learned to arm myself with my own set of verbal weapons, which further fueled the battles at home and got me at least one hard slap across the face in school.
I took these same sharpened weapons into marriage and after inflicting years of wounds, I finally realized I needed to lay my weapons down and think about words in a new way.
I’ve been blessed and influenced by friends who practice using words to build rather than tear down. One set of friends, a family with five kids, spends each New Year’s Eve writing cards to people that have been important to them in the past year. All of the members of our family have been recipients of those written word gifts over the years. I have another friend who loves to write quotes in beautiful color and script and give them out to her friends on birthdays, choosing a quote that fits the specific person in mind.
It’s taken a long time to learn that words can encourage, can help someone to feel seen and known, and can even heal the very wounds that began with hurtful words so long ago. My husband, in particular, knows how to use words as a blessing, not as a curse.
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:16)
My friend, Jennifer, sent me the unexpected gift of words this week. Jennifer (the same friend who draws the beautiful quotes mentioned above) has a particular passion for words and she loves to share that passion with others through her art, creative writing classes and books. In preparing lessons for an upcoming online class, she decided to gift her words to me!
These words were chosen uniquely with me in mind, because she knows me and knows what delights me. Thanks for the gift, Jennifer.
The collage at the top of this post and the word poem are part of Jennifer’s upcoming class. I will post details when I get them.