I’ve been reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Florence Littauer called Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement. In “Silver Boxes” she talks about a verse from the Bible in Ephesians that says:
Florence talks about how our words should be edifying to the people we’re speaking to. What we say to our spouses, children, family, friends and even strangers can be like a gift that comes wrapped in a silver box with a bow on top. Every time we speak to someone we have the opportunity to build them up, or to tear them down.
In one illustration a child explained our conversation is sometimes like playing with blocks. Someone works and builds an intricate building witht their blocks. Then, someone walks by and either praises all the vision, engineering and talent it took to build this wonderful structure or takes their arm and knocks every block down to the ground, destroying the builder’s hard work, hopes and dreams with one fell swoop. I’ve experienced both the joy and the destruction of other people’s words during my life. Many instances stick out in my memories as being either wonderful or horrible because of something another person said to me.
William Arthur Ward, a dedicated scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher said:
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”
“A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”
Since starting this book I’ve begun to reflect on the way I speak to people and to ask my self, “Am I benefitting this person with my words? Am I building this person up, or am I tearing him/her down?”
I know what I want my answer to be…but I’m certain that my words do not always build others up. In fact, I know that there have been many times when what I’ve said has been hurtful and judgemental. I wonder how many opportunities to encourage my children I’ve let pass by, or worse. I wonder how many times I’ve had the chance to thank my husband for something he’s done for me and have been too preoccupied to acknowledge the act.
I want my words to be gifts, silver boxes with bow on top..to be encouraging, uplifting and building.