Several months ago the boys were bickering at breakfast. I can not remember who said what to whom but I remember the feeling of contention as if the moment just happened. I quickly began sharing with them about how life and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) Sharing with them that words carry weight. I almost wish I had grabbed our Steve Green CD and put Keep Your Tongue From Evil on repeat. Trying to explain to my 4 boys that they have the power to build their brothers up or tear them down is not easy. I went on to ask them which they wanted to be known for doing. In that moment God abruptly interrupted with a question for me:
Where do YOU want to live?
Instantly I knew that once again He was using the mirror of my children to address my new bent of negativity in my life. In all honestly I have probably had a thread of self-negativity my entire life but it had begun to seep into every area. My world had become a perpetual bleak trial and that there was nothing but calamity and disaster as far as the eye could see. Hope had dissipated and time and time again I had partnered with lies of the enemy. I had gone from circumstances taking me out to turning the sword on myself.
God created the world by speaking it into existence. There are nine “God said” moments in Genesis 1 alone during the creation. My favorite of those being verse 26 which says, “Then God said, ‘let us take man in our image, according to our likeness….’” As His creation formed in His likeness that means we too can create with our words. God even partnered with Adam in creation allowing him to name all of the animals. (Genesis 2:19-20)
When you put value on something it has the power to change your world. If a complete stranger says something critical in passing the weight may not have the same impact as your father criticizing something you are deeply proud of. An exchange of resources happen at the sound of words. Be wise what you feed yourself.
The words we speak to ourselves greatly impact who we are the most.
I have the power. If I buy into and feed myself the lie that I am worthless and incapable of overcoming I will likely sit around defeated. In the same vein if I choose to wake up each day and speak life over myself and situations things often turn out differently. The amount of times I have changed the tone of my home by my words is incalculable. I have torn my house apart by yelling. I have also built my home up with kindness and affirming the ones inside.
One of my favorite passages in scripture comes from James 3 where it talks about controlling the tongue. There James compares the tongue to a ships rudder, just as the small rudder guides a giant ship so does the tongue guide your life.
Around the same time God was re-iterating these seemingly basic truths in my heart I ran across the most fascinating TED Talk. The speaker was Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist who studies language and she share about the power it has to shape us.
She goes on about how in the English language we put emphasis on the WHO in mistakes. Which made me wonder how this has impacted our/my inner worlds. How much shame has been introduced strictly by language.
She used simple sentences, with little variations, that proved to have BIG differences. Such as:
He broke the vase. vs. The vase was broken.
I broke my arm. vs. My arm is broken.
He broke his arm. vs. His arm was broken.
The slight change makes a GIANT difference on the overall feeling of what is being spoken. Both sentences are getting the same idea across but one places blame while the other is a statement.
Since listening to the TED Talk I have been working on cultivating a new mindset.
Being careful to not place a blame that causes shame both with myself and my boys. I can not say I am flawless in it; I will say I have seen how the minor shifts have been a catalyst in major changes in my heart. [More on that to come in future posts] The power of a slight shift in thinking that creates a ripple effect in how you live life is remarkable.
I want to challenge you to challenge your thinking.
As a wise woman I know (*cough* my counselor *cough*) says:
Things that go unchecked, go unchallenged will go unchanged.
If you are wanting a change in your life start by checking your thought life. See if there are areas and thought patterns that need to be checked, challenged and changed.
Make sure to watch the TED Talk and join in on the conversation by leaving a comment!