I suspect it’s unlikely that many of my readers have ever listened to TobyMac’s tune “Speak Life,” but I was reminded of the importance of its message after I wrote, “A Hardened Heart” a few days ago (I encourage you to check it out https://ourlifewelllivedleannehintz.com/2018/06/24/a-hardened-heart/ … it outlines the raw, harsh struggle I have with my eldest daily … I’m working on it though).
The phrase “speak life,” as I see it, is a simple reminder to speak kindly and to speak positively ABOUT others and TO others. I would take it a step further to say that we should also “speak life” ABOUT ourselves and TO ourselves.
“Speaking life” indicates hope and promise for the future. It nudges us to quit wallowing in our trials and focus on all that is good, rather than all the things that are weighing us down. Speaking life encourages us to live with gratitude and recognize the beauty in situations and people that we bump into in our lives. It pushes us to move past judgment, towards acceptance. When we “speak life” to someone, we build them up. We give them hope.
“In every encounter we either GIVE LIFE or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange” – Brennan Manning
I’m writing this post today for me (AGAIN). I’m not always the best at “speaking life” (as you may have guessed). I can be really hard on myself sometimes … beating myself up for the way my body looks, for example, or for not accomplishing a simple goal I set for myself. I get upset with myself when I choose projects over kids or don’t follow through with my plans to help and serve others. I get discouraged when I don’t put any effort into important relationships or when I talk too much (when I should have been listening instead).
I do believe, though, that I am kind to others. However, I do fall into a gossip trap once in awhile, and every time I do, I regret it. And, unfortunately, at times, I’m not always a perfectly kind wife (I’m working on this too … I encourage you to check out “Expectations,” https://ourlifewelllivedleannehintz.com/2018/06/28/expectations/ another of my recent posts).
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile and have become aware of the struggles I have with my oldest daughter, you may be upset with me right now, because I AM NOT “speaking life” over her. And, as I mentioned earlier, this was brought to my attention after writing my last post about her and some of her UNDESIRABLE tendencies.
The truth is … I write posts like “A Hardened Heart” because I believe there are other mothers out there who are struggling as much as I am with this whole parenthood thing, and I want them to know they are not alone. I also want to know that I am not alone. There are other mothers out there who are ALSO having a very difficult time with their children, but they may be too ashamed or frightened to talk about it because of what people might think. So they are alone. I write posts like this pleading for help, because … I … need … help. I write posts like this because they are HONEST. I know they are HARSH, but they are REAL. And that’s what I want people to see when they come to this blog. I don’t want them to come here, look at their own lives, and feel like they don’t belong. Or feel like they could never compare to the perfect image that people tend to put out on social media.
I DO WANT to “speak life” more and that’s why I am writing this post today (there’s a certain amount of accountability that comes with these posts, which I also love), but I AM NOT going to sugarcoat things or pretend they are perfect. They’re not.
Here are some ways that I am committed to “speaking life” …
- giving a compliment
- encouraging someone
- expressing gratitude
- being genuinely happy for someone (and telling them how happy I am for them)
- delighting in someone else’s excitement
- speaking positively about others
- seeing (and focusing on) the good in others
- holding my tongue
“Words kill; words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Proverbs 18:21
I cannot and will not get behind things that are wrong though. I cannot and will not “speak life” into some of the educational practices we’ve adopted recently or adultery or a lack of respect for one’s parents. I will not “speak life” into poor behaviour or lying or being mean to others. I will not lie in order to “speak life,” because that to me, is not speaking life at all.
My absolutely beautiful, strong-willed, and amazing daughter, Mackenzie, has so many wonderful qualities … she is helpful, curious, conscientious, compassionate, bright, playful, creative, responsible, kind, well-mannered, respectful, and honest. Is she perfectly so? Absolutely not. Do I expect her to be? Sometimes, I probably do. Of course, this is completely unfair. I remind her (and myself) all of the time that we all make mistakes. We must aim to learn from them though and always try to do better. And we must continuously remember that we are forgiven through God’s grace. If we remember this, it is much easier to “speak life.”
“Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the words you say.
Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain when you speak life with the things you say.”
TobyMac “Speak Life”