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Words That Honor

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

I turned 50 last November, and even in the weird year that was 2020, there were many memorable birthday moments—a cozy candlelight dinner with my family, a perfect three-layer chocolate cake and fresh flowers delivered to my door.




But as I think back to the birthday I wasn’t supposed to celebrate, what I remember most are the honoring words loved ones lavished on me. From all over the country, gracious sentiments poured in through texts, calls, Facebook posts, and handwritten cards and letters. They washed over me like fresh spring rain, cleansing old wounds and buoying my spirit.


It probably didn’t take anyone more than 15 minutes to write those words, but they seeped down into my soul and caused a seismic shift in how I viewed my life’s significance.


Intuitively, we all know words have power. But do we realize how much power?

The Proverbs say death and life are in the power of the tongue. You can’t get any more powerful than imparting life to - or inflicting death on - another human being.


Words can tear at our souls like a predator tearing the flesh of its prey, or they can protect our hearts like a bulletproof vest. We’ve all experienced this, but as a practical matter, we don’t seem to believe that how we communicate carries consequences.


If we did, we would change our ways.


Shouting our angry opinions seems to be turning into a national pastime, especially after this year of upheaval and instability. We feel out of control (spoiler alert: We are!) and overwhelmed. So, we look for someone to blame, and we oversimplify the solutions to complex issues.


We all live by a set of deeply held beliefs created and curated throughout our lifetimes based on our family, faith, culture, and experiences. These values span across a broad spectrum and will never be shared wholly and equally by any two people, let alone the nearly 8 billion humans sharing the planet.


Opinions typically flow out of our values. But they are not the same thing. Instead of loudly shouting our opinions, let’s try quietly living out our values.

We can start by choosing to speak words that honor.

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