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August 3, 2014

I started reading today’s devotional from “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, and once again, it hit home … a needed salve on just the right day. Not all folks put stock in words, but as many who know me will attest, I am a wordsmith, and I do value words — spoken and written.

There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

It’s a little ditty that children are taught to say when someone says something hurtful. But it is not true. Sticks and stones can indeed leave bruises and breaks, but generally those can and will heal. But the damage from ill-used words, or even the lack of use of a kind or necessary word batters and leaves scars that may never heal.
Some will say that actions speak louder than words. I agree that this perspective has merit. But some actions only serve to disguise or over compensate for a heart that is unwilling to be authentic and/or foster an environment that fosters more open communication, honesty and trust.
I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, “Lonesome Dove”, when Captain Call is about to leave the ranch in Montana to carry Gus back to Texas. He is leaving his illegitimate son, Newt, in charge of the ranch. He’d promised Gus that he would tell Newt that he was his daddy. When the time came to do it, he could not get the words out. So he took action instead … he gave Newt his own father’s watch, and his horse.
Newt longed to hear the Captain say, “I’m your daddy.” The actions meant nothing to Newt … as it all remained very shallow and on the surface.

Words are important.

From today’s devotional, it reads, “This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in My image.” It is indeed a POWERFUL responsibility of which too many of us take for granted.
I tend to have a quick wit in conversation, and seemingly a way with the written word on occasion. I have found over the past 50 years that if I am not mindful of the impact of my words, or without prayerful consideration of the audience, the interpretation of my words can be misconstrued. Just the same, because we all have a “faulty grid” that we use to “sift” communication, words can unintentionally hurt or cause damage. AND THIS, may require more words … sincere and authentic … to help heal the wound and the relationship.

In Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages,” he explains that “words of affirmation” are one of the five love languages to which people respond. Others are: 1) Acts of Service, 2) Receiving Gifts, 3) Quality Time, and 4) Physical Touch. Many times we try to “love” others with “our own love language” when they are actually more prone to appreciate and respond in a different language.
Just like in the Lonesome Dove scene, Newt’s language seemed to be “words of affirmation.” He didn’t get much of that in his life as was portrayed in the movie. Gus seemed to understand that, where the Captain did not. Woodrow seemed to think the “gifts” sufficed for his lack of ability to “affirm Newt” with the words he needed to hear.

Perhaps because my language is “words of affirmation,” I struggle to understand how a “gift” or “act of service” or “physical touch” or even “quality time” cannot be accompanied by a soothing, affirming word when the intent is to express love. I mean, what good is a gift or physical touch, if you never hear, “I love you.” But just same, what good is, “I love you,” and there is never any tangible means of proof such as taking out the garbage or going for a Sunday drive through the mountains together. On the contrary, words seasoned with sarcasm, bitterness or diatribe greatly overshadow and demean any gift or attempt at service or physical touch. Such only serves to confuse the languages altogether.

Bottom line is … WORDS are necessary and vital to healthy relationships. So many problems in our lives, our families, our workplaces, our communities, our country and our world could be solved with us just being mindful and diligent of the awesome privilege and responsibility of communication.


{Discover your love language:}


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