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Conversations Devotions

Word Wrap Up

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never REALLY hurt me.

It is official, I am a word nerd! A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to join me on a journey of Words. Thank you for coming along! Together, we have thought through the pros and cons of the way we speak. In case you missed any of those posts, here are the links:

There are so many categories of words. I’m sure I’ll look into more of them from time to time because I’m humbled by the power my words have for good or for evil. I read a quote by an unknown author that said:

“Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”

That reminded me of an object lesson my husband did when he taught our kids about the importance of words. He had them squeeze a whole tube of toothpaste onto a plate, then he asked them to put it back in. Of course, they could not! Words are the same way. Once they are out, there is no retracting them. They can be forgiven, but not erased. How important it is to make sure the words that get through the gateway of our lips are laced with grace and will benefit those on whom they land!

The common wisdom I hear is that “loose lips sink ships”. But I say not always! I want my words to flow freely when they are edifying. Can we agree to let loose when credit is due, or praise is earned?

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

Proverbs 3:27

We can honor God and those around us when we control our words, written, spoken, and contemplated. Are you inspired to take up the challenge? This may wrap up our little study for now, but I hope we maintain the awareness and intentionality we’ve discovered together as we’ve focused on our words.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14
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Conversations Devotions

Thoughtful Words

I am not Queen of the Quick Comeback. Too often, I try to make a yolk in the moment and end up with egg all over my face. (See what I mean – and that one was even thought out!) Maybe that is why I like to write. It allows me to plan what I say and say what I plan; and write thoughtful words. From Merriam-Webster.com:

  • Thoughtful(adj): decided on as a result of careful thought
  • Words related to thoughtful: intentional, purposeful, careful, informed, planned…
  • Nearest opposite words of thoughtful: random, unadvised, hurried, abrupt, purposeless…

How do you feel about moments of silence in conversations? Some of the smartest people I know take the time to think before they speak. Now I’m wondering – do you think they use pause because they’re smart or do they seem smart because they use pause? Hmmm…

I appreciate that the definition above says thoughtful words are ‘decided on’. We can deliberately pick the words that will serve our purpose. Are we trying to evoke someone to laugh? Reconsider? Understand? Believe in themselves? Our chances of success are better if we carefully choose our words for the situation and audience we have. The Bible is straightforward:

“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 29:20

Now it is your turn. I genuinely want to know your thoughts. How do you deal with awkward pauses? What strikes you about the concept of thoughtful words? What about the risk of over-thinking? Please share in the comments below!

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Conversations Devotions

Dismissive Words

Class Dismissed! Ah, those words still bring a bounce of joy to my heart and I’m not even in school! But most of the time, it hurts to be dismissed. I never want to be dismissive to anyone, yet I sometimes catch myself doing it. Here is how Merriam-Webster.com describes it:

  • Dismissive(adj): having or showing a disdainful attitude toward someone or something regarded as unworthy of serious attention
  • Words related to dismissive: diminish, discount, criticize, write off, belittle…
  • Nearest opposite words of dismissive: favor, commend, approve, compliment…

Often, dismissive words are non-verbal, aren’t they? But they speak so loudly! A shoulder shrug, an eyeroll, a sigh, or a glance at the watch; these can all leave someone feeling like they aren’t worth our time, and their story isn’t worth hearing.

The other day I caught myself being dismissive with a child I love. This kid has a great imagination and was going on and on with a make-believe tale. I realized I wasn’t even listening anymore, but my lips were still saying “wow.” and “that’s amazing.” It sounded just like that too – with periods and yawns instead of exclamation points and excitement. I’m sure that child felt my disinterest. I was thankful that I noticed in time to re-engage. “Wow! That is so amazing! You are a very creative storyteller!”

I don’t even want to think about how dismissive I can be when someone tries to talk to me while I’m writing, or on my phone, or otherwise distracted. I’m sure I don’t even respond some of the time. The people in my life are more important to me than my free-time activities, but how will they know that unless I turn, look them in the eyes, and actively converse when they need it, no matter what else is going on?

I recognize my own dismissive behavior because I often feel dismissed. It makes me want to do better; to pay attention, show favor, and sincerely offer commendation. Some people are so talented at validating others by the way they speak. Are you one of them? Do you have an example of either a dismissive or affirming conversation? Please share your thoughts, and together, let’s do away with dismissive words for good.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

Bryant McGill

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Conversations Devotions

Gracious Words

Did you read the title of this post and immediately think of someone? Close your eyes and think about how you feel around them. People who are truly gracious are rare and the world needs them desperately. I would love to be one and I know we could do this together! Here is a definition according to Merriam-Webster.com:

  • Gracious(adj): showing a natural kindness and courtesy especially in social situations
  • Words related to gracious: cordial, hospitable, friendly, kind, considerate…
  • Nearest opposite words of gracious: abrupt, impolite, grumpy, blunt, rude…

The first thing that I want to notice is that Jesus spoke gracious words.

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.”

Luke 4:22a

I mention this because He is the standard of authenticity and integrity. From His example, we know that speaking graciously does not mean insincerity, nor does it require a compromise in what we personally stand for. Gracious words come from a place inside that truly values another person and speaks it out loud. It is a manner of speaking that includes others, soothes over awkwardness, and shows honor.

I adore gracious people, but fear I seldom am one. To improve my effectiveness in this area, I need to worry less about what people think of me and more about how they feel about themselves around me. They are precious and dearly loved by Jesus and the way I speak to them can and should impress that upon them deeply.

It might be more acceptable today than ever before to be blunt and rude to each other. People may be getting accustomed to it and barely taking offense anymore, but that only enhances our opportunity! Think how amazing the impact could be if we would learn to speak gracious words in a world where they are so few and far between!

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:24

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Conversations Devotions

Deceitful Words

Lies, dishonesty, falsehood, fibs, misinformation… there are many ways to label an untruth. Did you know there is a marked difference between deceptive words and deceitful words? They are similar, but the difference is in the intent. Deceptive words are likely misleading, but deceitful words are deliberately so (wikidiff.com). This is what Merriam-Webster.com had to say:

  • Deceitful (adj): marked by, based on, or done by the use of dishonest methods to acquire something of value
  • Words related to deceitful: fraudulent, misleading, shady, sneaky, sly, tricky…
  • Nearest opposite words of deceitful: candid, open, trustworthy, legitimate, valid…

My deceitful words are motivated by a desire to gain something of value. What might fall into this category? How about an embellished resume that makes me appear better qualified for a job than I am? An exaggerated retelling of an event where I receive higher applause than I deserve? Or when I arrange details to throw suspicion off me when I have made a mistake? If a picture says a thousand words, then what is it called when I edit a photo to remove my flaws and attract more attention? Whew, this is getting heavy now!

I would much rather be known for valid stories with legitimate facts. I want to be open and honest. And the funny thing is, when someone is real with me and shares their failures in all candidness, I’m drawn to them and feel that I can trust them. Why would I try to alter the truth and think that people would like me better for it?

This one hits home for me, and I realize I have some repenting to do. How about you? Can you think of examples of ways you might be guilty of deceitful words?

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

1 Peter 3:10

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Conversations Devotions

Nurturing Words

“Life-giving words” has been a trendy hash tag du jour. You have likely come across it more than once. People throw the phrase around and it sounds noble, but it also raises the question – what does it mean? How can my words nurture life? I enlisted the trusty Merriam-Webster.com to shed some light:

  • Nurture (v): to help the growth or development of
  • Words related to nurture: cultivate, promote, advocate, nourish…
  • Nearest opposite words of nurture: prevent, hinder, oppose, encumber…

Proverbs gives some more insight:

“The lips of the righteous nourish many”

Proverbs 10:21a

“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 15:4

What comes to mind when you contemplate the idea of nurturing? A mother with her baby? A gardener with a seedling? An animal in dire straits who is being nursed back to life by a wildlife preservation group? These are the things I think of. But how do those pictures translate into language?

Nurture is a verb. It implies a doing. How can my words take action in someone’s life? The beautiful thing about words is that they do have the power to take root in someone’s mind and grow into ideas and inspiration. That is also the awful thing about words. It all depends on which words I choose.

We’re familiar with the experience of having a voice from our childhood ringing in our heads. Perhaps it reminds us to floss or gives us random advice. What if my kids heard my voice, for years to come, reminding them of their innate value and divine purpose and encouraging them for all that they have to contribute to the world? That would be so much more life-giving than nagging them about their shortcomings or encouraging them to wear clean underwear in case they’re in an accident (I never really understood that one).

Whose life can you breathe into with your words today? What impetuses can you nourish? Whose confidence can you cultivate? Are you up for the challenge? Notice who comes to mind. God may very well be pointing them out because they are ripe for some nuturing words.

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”

Marvin J. Ashton