"It suddenly hit me that I was using words to hurt other people and I was quite good at it. At that moment, it had felt like an eternity, I became fully aware of all of the pain that I had inflicted. The worst was it was too late to apologize and make amends to my friend. I knew I had to change. I decided then and there that for the rest of my life I would only use words for good, to lift the brokenhearted and heal the wounded. And that has been my desire and purpose ever since."
-Sam Worthington (The Letter Writer)
I desire to do the right thing, but more often I do what's wrong.
I am imperfect.
I give up.
I don't move on.
I focus on the bad.
I am human.
I am reminded of my inadequacy.
I repeatedly say the first thing that comes to mind. My words are spoken in anger, and out of fatigue. I have been given the gift of words by God. Constantly my mind is full of them. They fly through me in all different directions and I don't always try to bridle them. They flow out of me before I can stop them. I am careless. I become lazy. I misuse my gift.
I was so inspired after watching The Letter Writer this past weekend. There is power in affirming someone. It can change a person's life to hear that you have value as an individual.
If you aren't familiar with this movie, I'll give you a brief synopsis. Maggie Fuller is a rebellious teenager who is headed for trouble. She is receiving pressure in all areas of her life and can't live up to everyone's expectations of her. Maggie finds hope and significance after she receives a mysterious letter of encouragement which leads her to find and meet Sam Worthington, her letter writer. Maggie is baffled as to why he would send a stranger this letter, as if he genuinely appreciates her.
"Didn't you like your letter?"
"Yeah, but you don't even know me."
"If I'm the one person that has something nice to say about you, I know you better than anyone else."
- Sam Worthington
Sam Worthington has a gift with words. He chooses a name out of the phone book every day and writes a letter affirming them. He daily goes around town giving out encouraging notes. To each individual he meets, he shares with them how he wrote this letter of encouragement not knowing who would receive it, but God has revealed that they are the one. This proves to be a life-changing experience for Maggie Fuller.
The story was inspiring!
I witnessed the power of discouragement. I saw a teenage girl who was reaching out to be loved; a girl beaten down by words spoken in anger and despair. I observed a parent trying to do what she thought was right, grasping at any way of getting through to her daughter.
I watched a stranger, an outsider, who became a lifeline.
And it was all because of encouragement.
We don't realize how cutting our remarks can be. We don't think about who they might hurt. We think we are doing the right thing, but we don't speak in love.
I believe children are the greatest blessing God has given me. I wish my words could better reflect my heart. Sometimes I take things too far. I see mistakes and feel I must correct the behavior, not counting at what cost I'm doing it, or caring how it gets done. I don't ever want my kids to grow up feeling as if they were not good enough for me. I will love them no matter what. But does my behavior and actions always show that to them? Grievously, no it does not.
Deep down, there is a part of me that wants my children to grow up to be perfect adults. Is it because I want what's best for them, or is it my own pride? After all everyone knows that children are a reflection of the parents.
- I want every hair to be in place, every spot on their body sparkling clean.
- I want their rooms to always be clean, and their toys to sit nicely on the shelves and in the buckets.
- I want them to excel in every subject of school.
- I don't want to get a bad report for misbehavior.
- I don't want them to ever steal, lie, or cheat.
- I want them to always put others first and never be selfish.
- I want them to be polite and have the best possible manners in every situation.
- I want everyone to like them all the time.
- I want them to love God with all their hearts, and always make the "right" choices.
- I want the absolute best for my children.
Is that so wrong? Shouldn't I want my child to succeed? Because if my child succeeds, then I must have succeeded as a parent, right?
It's impossible to expect perfection out of a sinful individual. None of us can reach such a high standard. But does that stop us from wanting it from our children? I think we as parents always want the best for our children; however at what cost? We need to be very careful that our wants don't become our expectations.
God has been showing me for several years that I have to love and let go. I can try to guide my children, but I cannot make the decisions for them. I can see them as separate from me. I can respond to them in loving ways, and even love them when they mess up. I can stop expecting them to be perfect. I can expect them to be human just like me. And when they fail, it has no weight on the person they are right now, or the person they will become. It's simply a mistake; a way to show that we all need God. I must expect them to mess up. And when they mess up, I need to be there to remind them of what they did do right. If I don't do that for them, who will?
I want to be Sam Worthington. I want to encourage those around me, and change their life with my words. I want to use my gift of words to build up people, even strangers who I've never met before. I want to mail out handwritten notes, praying over what words I should say to them, figuring out how God wants me to strengthen and comfort them.
I will definitely be doing this in the future! I'm already making plans to add it to my list of summer fun with the kids. We're going to buy a book of stamps, and write affirming letters each week for whoever God leads us to. I'm excited!
The Letter Writer inspired me as a mother. I hope to weigh my words more carefully. While I do desire for my children to succeed, I don't desire for it to happen out of fear or obligation. My words should be carefully thought of, not a fountain spilling over with no restraint. And the most important thing is that the positive words spoken need to far outweigh the negative. I forget that too easily. We need to be looking for the good and affirming it in our children. Don't let the only words you say to them be negative words of correction. While that is important, it's the affirmation that's even more beneficial to building their character.
"There's a balance in all things. If you give, you will receive. If you give a lot, you'll be rich. It's magical! You see, life is like a mirror, if someone steals or is dishonest, they'll invite people into their lives who also steal and are dishonest. The good thing is you can choose who and what enters your life. Within every human being there is a God given ability that if you find it and nurture it you'll be able to bless the lives of others." - Sam Worthington