“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