“I used to think the words spoken about us describe who we are, but now I know they shape who we are.”
One of my favorite reads this week has been the humor-filled stylings of Bob Goff in his book Love Does. This quote particularly resonated with me thanks to my word nerd status. I herald the impact words can have and the power they wield on a regular basis. I am a firm believer that what we say really does change lives.
Words can alter plans, build walls, and move hearts. Think about what you have remembered and what you have forgotten in your life. How much of it stuck because of something someone said? Did you ever forget that horrible thing said to you as a child? Have you held on to that one card that held the words that brought tears to your eyes? Do you still go back and read that post you connected with so strongly you thought the author could see inside your head? Did you change even one single behavior or thought or action because of those things I mentioned? Exactly.
We not only hold on to the memory of a word spoken, but we also use that information in our future choices. I treat bullies and the bullied differently because I was bullied as a child. I still have behaviors that show up because of words said long ago. The words spoken granted me perspective and insight into situations. They guided my responses and my next steps. They left me to know more about the person speaking them and provided direction for me as I heard them. Those moments, those words, shaped me. What they did not do was define me. I am not defined by the words the bullies said, but I am shaped by them. We should never allow someone else’s words to tell us who we are. There is only one man who can tell me who I am and he says I am wanted, I am cherished, and I am loved.
As we realize the force of what people say can mold us in ways we never thought about, we must also realize the responsibility to use the power of our words wisely. We must choose carefully. Words hold weight. We must remember that what we say will be remembered. That one sentence you can’t take back may be what someone else remembers forever.
What shape will your words take today?