“I love you.”
“Wow, that was really good babe.”
Those are words of life that my wife has said to me more times than I can count. Each time she speaks these simple words of affirmation they recharge me, my sense of worth, love, and significance. As Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages says they fill my “Love Tank”.
Whether or not words of affirmation are your primary love language isn’t the point of this post. The point is that the words we speak to those we love could very well be the thing that helps them strive to the next level, or to push through some internal struggle they’re dealing with…whatever that may be.
Words have the power of life or death and sadly we have a tendency to forget just how powerful they can be, especially positive ones, and so we begin to undervalue their significance and we don’t let them build us up as they should. Which usually results in us entering into a slump, which can lead to depression, which in turn can lead us even further down dark paths if we don’t allow the healing effects that words of affirmation can have on us begin to take hold. Of course ultimately I know we should find our value, and our sense of love in God but the facts are He created us to be in relationship with others and our relationships are what help us navigate life.
If you’re married your relationship is the pinnacle of human relations and of course we should place great value in the words of our spouses…especially when they’re life-giving. When I was in middle and high school I was the kid who every time a verbal report was assigned I just told the teacher to give me an “F”, because I wasn’t going to stand in front of the class and speak. No way was I going to do that and there was nothing anyone could say or do to get me to change my mind on it. When I become a Christian and felt God calling me to ministry I knew I was in a situation that needed to change because again there was no way I would stand in front of group of people and talk about Jesus…way too intimidating. After all, I know what I thought when I would listen to my peers speak so, I thought I knew what others would be thinking as I spoke. That was soon to change though…
In the early days of my marriag,e my wife and I began attending a church in Maryland. While at this church I got my chance to prove that I would listen to what I felt God called me to do which was preach; so the youth pastor handed over the junior high ministry to me. I was scared but my wife encouraged me and filled my tank…despite the fact that I didn’t let her come to first few sermons I spoke. However, every week I would have her read my typed out sermon and get her thoughts on it. Heck I’ve done that with every sermon and every blog post I’ve written…she reads over them and then offers me her thoughts and her encouragement…which pushes me on. Pretty much after every sermon that I’ve ever preached I go through the same thing.
On the drive home I usually look at my wife and say that message sucked, I bombed, I should have done better, etc etc etc. Without fail she always say “You did great.” and usually some other words of affirmation that would build me up and push me on to do it all over again. That’s what spouses do, when we allow them, they push us into the next thing. Why? Because we chose to do life together and that means balancing one another…especially in times of weakness.
At the end of the day I realize my value as a preacher is found in Christ but it’s the words that my wife speaks to me that helps tune me to that reality. At the end of the day it’s God the Father who’s my example of the lengths a father should go but it’s the words my children speak into me that helps me tune into that reality. At the end of the day that I realize that it’s in the love that Jesus shows the church that I can discover how to be the husband I’m meant to be but it’s my wife who gives me the chance, the opportunity to be that husband and it’s through her words of affirmation that I find the strength to push the limits and strive to be the man who my God, my wife, and my kids all need me to be. Words of affirmation have the power to heal, restore, and conquer lots of things…but only if we’re open to receiving them. So may you evolve your thinking and let your words be life…and when you must speak tough words temper them with love.