I wonder if many of us stop before we speak to think if our words will encourage or harm some unsuspecting person. I have to admit, I’m guilty of not always thinking before I speak. I want to be an encourager of people, but sometimes, I forget how damaging words can be- not just to our physical selves, but right down to the soul, right where our spirit lies.
The reason I bring this up and the reason I have not been writing are connected. I had reason to doubt myself, my writing capabilities and what I feel God has called me to do recently when I was on the receiving end of criticism regarding my recent book, “The Conservative Congregant.” You may be saying, as I was, “Oh Paula, put on your big girl pants and get on with it.” But, I was truly surprised the self doubt that came from criticism that came more in the form of an accusation. I called my friend, Jackie Smith and asked if she’d had that experience. She verified she’d been on that end of the spectrum and she had cried. I immediately felt better after her reassurance that all was going to be fine.
However, those words left me with self doubt, doubts about whether I should ever write again and even though I put my big girl pants on, my soul was sad, unhappy.All from the spoken word … or in this case, a written few words.
Just when I was thinking maybe I’d misunderstood God’s call to write, a sweet friend who is reading my book first sent me a message telling me how much he liked it, giving it such high praise. I thought it an amazing sense of timing when it came to me , since I had been so down on myself. Then, when I woke up this morning, there, on Facebook, for all to see was his thoughts on my book! All good. High praise. Encouraging. For me, a sign from God, telling me I didn’t misunderstand, that I was following his direction, right on target as He planned.
So, when you converse with someone, whether it be a constructive criticism or daily run of the mill conversation, think about how your words impact other people. It could be the difference of tearing down or building up. Thank you, my friend!