Today I was talking with my seven year old daughter. She mentioned to me that her four year old little sister would be attending her very first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. My youngest is a fiery banshee woman who lives with her heart on her sleeve. Default aggressive and BIG emotions. The little girl was most definitely afraid.
I paused. It occurred to me the power that words have in our lives. What I said next mattered…
Words can be used for good or for evil. Words can be used to create clarity or confusion. Words, when wielded by the ineffective communicator, can be true yet fall on deaf ears. Sweetly spoken words and ideologies have inspired foolish sheep to the slaughter to the tune of multitudes dead. Hitler and Stalin alone are responsible for 30 million alone.
…I sat down, gathered my daughters together, and mustered the strength to say the following:
[Tomorrow your sister will go to a new place and experience new things. She’s going to be afraid. You will need to use words that build her up. You will need to help her feel welcome and loved. This will take focus. She will need you. Use words that encourage and uplift her. I love you.]
The next day my youngest went to BJJ. Current gym regulations mandate that only children can be in the facility. Parents must sit in their cars. It was gut wrenching to watch my youngest walk into a place she mentioned to me the night before made her, “afraid”.
We waited with bated breath.
The daughters emerge. Pride in my eldest’s eyes. She stated that there was a movement that my youngest couldn’t get right. There were tears and discouragement. Words between sisters were exchanged. Encouragement ensued. There was persistent resilience. There was a smile.
This happy interaction made me reflect on the power of my owen words used throughout my life. I’ve used words as weapons. I’ve used words to “other” people. I’ve used words to breatk people down to feel better about myself.
A cold sweat, and then an uncovered smile.
I reflected on how far life has come in the last few years. Seldom does a word leave the lips unworthy of high praise. Words are used as building blocks to see people and communities rebuilt brick by brick. Love spills from the corner of the mouth. Freedom from self, greed, and pain starts with me.