What were the first words you heard when you went to work or school or exercise this morning? Did they make your day? Did they make you sad? Did they fill you with hope or discouragement?
What were the first words you spoke to another person today? What did you say to yourself in the mirror? Did you look at someone today and say, “You look really good today,” or, “You look like a truck backed over you”?
I recently gave notice on Facebook that I will no longer tolerate discouraging words. I’ve drawn a line in the sand and will not allow myself to be abused by words. You know those blanket posts that some stranger has posted, and then maybe a friend or family member of yours has picked up and shared out of guilt? You know those posts in which the original poster tells everyone that if they don’t share this post, they’re a bad person, a bad Christian, a bad American? I reject that negativity.
Yes, we do have some bad issues going on in social media right now, and in our country, in our world, in our churches. How will my continued negativity fix that? It won’t. How will it help if I decide I want to blame someone in my life? It won’t. Remember that wonderful, short, easy-to-learn Bible verse, “A soft answer turns away wrath”? Yeah, that one. I’m claiming that as mine. I love it.
From now on, I will attempt to speak only encouraging words–okay, can’t help a bit of dry humor every so often, but other than that, only encouragement. If someone says something harsh to me, I cannot promise that I will reply with a soft answer, but I will attempt to at least walk away without responding in anger and making things worse. I will, instead, attempt to encourage others the way the man in the picture above encourages me and everyone around him.
I have never met a kinder, more encouraging man than Mel, my partner and husband and best earthly friend. He’s the Alexander half of Hannah Alexander, and though he doesn’t physically write our novels, he does everything else. He is a wonderful researcher, he is the best editor, whose grasp of English and grammar and spelling is excellent. Most importantly, he encourages. That’s his love language, and with that language, he rescued me years ago from a life of verbal abuse. He showed me that life wasn’t about fighting and winning, but about winning people over with goodness and love. What a total about-face he has made in my life! I’m still learning from him, and I hope to continue to do so for many years to come. Maybe I also teach him some things, too, but I don’t know that I can ever teach him as much as he has taught me.
Let’s learn kindness from one another, not hostility. Let’s speak words of life to one another, not harsh words that discourage and drag others down. Let’s show God’s love to others and see if the changes in our attitudes might begin a chain reaction that could become a force for good. Let’s stop this runaway train of anger and ugliness before it’s too late, and let’s replace it with hope.