Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The power of words

When I was about 9, I had three close buddies in our neighbourhood. The four of us played frequently, sometimes all four of us together or two or three at a time. One day, someone suggested that we each reveal who our best friend was. Joyce volunteered to go first.

“She's my best friend because she does not share my secrets,” Joyce started with a tinge of melodrama and suspense. Then she continued, “My best friend is Lerryblossoms.”

I was somewhat flattered but nonetheless surprised. I wasn’t sure I was as loyal as Joyce had described me to be. I wasn’t even sure she was my best friend.

Because of this incident, I tried to live up to Joyce’s pronouncement on my character. The impact of her kind words and faith in my trustworthiness followed me, and continues to follow me through adulthood. I have loads of confidential matters entrusted to me by friends and acquaintances, deep secrets I will take with me to the crematorium.

Words have the power to give life or death, the Bible says. I totally agree. I try to speak life-giving words to my children hoping that some of these will shape their behaviour the way Joyce’s simple statement influenced mine. “You did it!”… “You are good in Math (or Arts or whatever)….” “You will grow up to be a fine man.”… “You will succeed.”… “You have great potential.”… “You are very smart.”… “You are a good helper.”…

Be generous with praise. How often do we hear it said? And I mean genuine praise, not flattery or condescension. Try it and see it work in someone's life.

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