Our Words Can Save a Life

life or death

On my two-year-old’s first day of preschool, he ran into the classroom without giving me a second glance. I stood there watching, my emotions swinging between relief and sadness.

He was going to be just fine.

His teachers welcomed him with warm smiles and words of encouragement. But their presence and tenderness spoke volumes their words couldn’t express. He was in a safe place.

When I arrived a couple of hours later he was playing with toys, unaware of my presence. Who was this child of mine? When did he grow up and become an independent toddler instead of the one-year-old who latched to my side, crying when I dropped him off in the church nursery?

I don’t remember ever being like my son. When I think back on my school days, I see a girl who longed for the familiar, who stayed inside her comfort zone and had a few close friends.

Change was the enemy. A roomful of strangers made me anxious and fearful, and throughout middle and high school I was dubbed, “the quiet one.”

So when my husband and I moved cross-country twice within the first five years of our marriage, I was forced to see change in a new light. Perhaps it wasn’t the enemy, but an integral part of life which could make me to grow and flourish or wither and hide.

I’d heard the old adage, “Bloom where you are planted,” and I wanted to. But I wasn’t sure I could.

One morning I sat in a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting indulging in a cream-filled donut and hoping to meet just one person. It was a year after our second cross-country move and community eluded me.

My ball cap covered my bed head but I knew it couldn’t cover the mixture of expectation and skepticism in my eyes.

As I tried to fix my attention on my donut, the MOPS coordinator stopped in front of me.

“You’re new here,” she said with a grin.

And I knew.

I knew she didn’t speak to me out of obligation but a genuine excitement that I was there. We chatted about how many kids we had, their ages, and the similarities between them.

A few days later, I note arrived in my mailbox. I opened it, half expecting to see a pre-printed greeting that was sent to all new MOPS attendees. Skimming the words, I saw I was wrong.

“It’s always nice to meet another “outsider.””

We’d talked about being from another town. A common bond instantly connected us, as we both knew how hard it was to be the “new girl,” the girl with no family, the girl with no friends.

In the few short minutes it took my new friend to write the words, she changed the outlook of my entire day.

And like my son on his first day at preschool, I felt welcome. I felt safe.

Never underestimate the power of your words.

Our words have the power to breathe life or stifle it.

With a simple “hello,” a smile, a conversation spent listening instead of simply waiting to speak, we breathe life into the bones of others. Others who are hurting, wanting, and needing our presence and affirmation.

All it takes is a simple decision. But that decision can make the difference between life and death.

With our words, we can speak hope.

 

*photo credit

*Linking up with these beautiful communities: #LiveFreeThursday

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28 thoughts on “Our Words Can Save a Life

  1. What a picture of the gospel – that friend at MOPS…. pursuing the outsider for the sake of relationship. I’m so glad you shared this story. It’s a reminder that our humble words and actions can be used to encourage and bring life. Great post, friend! I’m always glad I stopped by your place!

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    • Karen, I’m always encouraged by your visits too! And yes, I think relationships epitomize the message of the Gospel- to love others well even when it isn’t easy. Thanks so much for stopping by today, friend.

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  2. Yes, our words CAN save a life. I was just cleaning out a drawer in my closet yesterday and came across a stack of unused stationary and cards. I used to send little notes to people all the time. I loved giving those notes of encouragement! So what happened? The busyness of life and technology stepped in. I’m resolving today to get back to my note-writing. Who doesn’t love to get a hand-written note? Thanks for this message today, Abby:)

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    • Kristine, I am a big fan of the handwritten note. It is so powerful! I’m trying to do more of them myself. I’m always blessed by your visits. Thanks for stopping here today!

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  3. Abby, your words here are indeed powerful! I love the story used to illustrate the key point and reminder of this post. Hand written notes are something that seems so out of time now, but I love them and have a file of the most special ones I have received to re-read on days I need a boost. Too often our words are spoken in haste as we rush from one thing to another or we are so lost in our own thoughts that we fail to see or recognize an opportunity to speak words that someone else so much needs to hear. So glad I stopped here today!

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  4. Abby,
    Thank you for the thought provoking reminder of just how important my words are. I am trying to pause more before I speak and ask God to give me words that are edifying to others. Our words can make or break someone else…and I know how I have been broken by others harsh words. I need this reminder every single day!! Thank you!!
    Love your heart,
    Bev xx

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    • Me too, Bev. I need this reminder as well. Sometimes I overthink and don’t say anything too. I also need to be reminded that sometimes stepping out of my comfort zone and starting a conversation is what God wants. Love you, friend!

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  5. Our words can be life-giving or stifling and I continue to learn this lesson as a mom of adult sons. I wrote a very similar post today because we continue to learn how to have conversations with our children as they grow through all of the stages of life to adulthood and it evolves as they do. We also crave words of affirmation as adults and you received those when that card came in the mail from the MOPS coordinator. So glad to be your neighbor at #TellHisStory

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    • Mary, I have sons too and God is teaching me how much my words can affect them. Thank you for visiting and sharing your experiences as a mom who is a little further down the road, with adult kids. I always love hearing from moms who can share how they made it and survived! 😉

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  6. You are so right, Abby! As an introvert who does just fine without a lot of contact with others, I always have to remind myself to make conversation and reach out to others–it doesn’t come naturally. But I’m always blessed when I do!

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  7. Absolutely, Abby! We moms can tear each other down, or we can build each other up. Recently, I had the blessing of having another mom speak just two words to me that made my day (at least): “I don’t.” As in “I don’t have it altogether, I don’t do everything ‘good moms’ are supposed to do, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, I don’t…”. Thank you for sharing your wise words. topping by from Christian Blog Comment Exchange on Google+!

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  8. Wow, Abby, after reading several of your last posts, I’d say you’re REALLY finding your niche and your voice ( I mean I’m sure you had before, but it’s becoming so much more evident!) Good work! Thanks for this simple reminder that a few kind words (I liked the part about listening during a conversation!) can change a life. We forget this so easily.

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    • Betsy, that is so encouraging to hear. Thank you, friend. And yes, God has been telling me to listen more, which goes so contrary to our nature but is so important. Love and hugs to you. xoxo

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  9. I’m way past the Mom-stage, but your words are so important for all of us. A few years ago, My husband and I followed his job to a small town. It’s a close-knit town with generations of the same family and people who have known each other since before they were born, as they like to say. It’s been hard to step into that but the few people who have reached out are priceless. They have blessed me!

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  10. I too have been labeled “the quite one.” It’s so easy to underestimate the power of a simple conversation. We serve a relational God, and He created us to be relational people. Our words can mean the world to someone who is craving relationship and acceptance. They don’t even necessarily need to be “encouraging” words. A simple conversation with someone who genuinely cares can change everything. Thank you for your insights!

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  11. I really like this. I always need and enjoy the reminder of choosing my words wisely. I like how you made a connection. Now I see why I am drawn to your writings. I can relate so well to the person you described….the anxieties, the quietness.

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  12. This post brought tears to my eyes and the name of someone I need to write a note to. I am new to my area and looking for fellow mom friends. The journey starts on Monday with Storytime at the library. I’ve been new many times before but there is always the nervousness at first. Thank you for your encouraging words! And thank you also for stopping by my blog a couple weeks ago. I appreciate your comment and replied to it there.

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  13. MOPs is actually part of my testimony. The Lord used the mothers at MOPs to be a Christ-like example which the Lord used to start the process of drawing me to Himself. Years later, in gratitude and knowing what a vital ministry MOPs is, I was the mentor coordinator and mentor. It was a joy to be around those moms.

    So happy that the Lord used MOPs to bring a kindred spirit along side of you. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to remember how important our words and actions are in the life of even strangers.

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  14. Pingback: Favorite Blog Posts List for 2015 - Katie M. Reid

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