In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both stretching and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life.
As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love to read your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.
Stories of the heart are built by adding word count. I belong to an online group for writing 1000 words in one hour. Not everyone does this, and not everyone who’s part of the group is adding word count to their manuscripts. But it’s a great community where we hold each other accountable to work on our projects. For any book to come to a place of completion, words must be added in the creating of said book.
As important as it is to build word count in a book, it’s even more essential that we make our real-life words count.
Do I speak words of life over my sons, or are my words like verbal vomit over their heads and hearts? In my first drafts I pour initial thoughts onto the page that I later get to re-work, erase, finesse.
The thing is, in real-life, we don’t get re-do’s when we mess up in what we speak to others. Our first draft words will make an impression that’s written on a heart, in thoughts. We must be careful in what we say.
We can’t police every single word that slips from our mouths, I know. Feelings sometimes overrule our reason. We say things we regret after the heat of emotion cools from molten lava to rock. But that’s the thing. Once the results are cooled to rock, there’s no changing the impact.
I’ve spewed out words I later wished I could erase . . . to my husband, to my boys, to friends. Whether they were spoken in the passion of a moment in a way that left the hearer wounded . . . or words whispered in gossip . . . or things spoken that inadvertently hurt another, my words have impacted my hearers.
Mothering, like no other calling God’s given me, has challenged me to finesse my words—my tone—before anything leaves my lips. God is helping me to not allow emotion dictate how and what I say. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s said things to my kids that I would never, ever say to anyone else. The conviction from doing this has been a deterrent to letting emotion rule how I say things.
The Lord is challenging me to be authentic in what I speak to others, but to do so with grace and His guidance. It’s hard, sometimes, when I want to blurt out my frustration, my anger, with a person or a situation.
I’m learning to filter my initial first-draft words through these questions:
1. What impact will my words have on the hearer’s heart?
2. Will these words be life-giving to the hearer?
3. If they are hard words that still must be spoken, how can I say them in a way that will speak the truth in love?
It’s not easy to press my lips closed until I evaluate what I want to say through these questions. But, doing so helps me to be more intentional about speaking words that count in a good way.
Even when hard truths must be shared, I pray that they will speak life, love, and encouragement to the hearts receiving them. Because when my heart is to make words count—and when I pray that God will help me speak them effectively—I believe He honors that prayer. He enables me to moderate the message and my tone in a way that brings Him glory and reminds the hearer they are loved.
Though in my stories I can pore over the words I add—I can take the time to make sure I convey just the right message for readers—the process still requires prayer and intentional effort.
I need to take time to mentally edit the words I plan to speak to others so they convey the accurate message in a way that points them to the Lord rather than inflicting hurt.
What about you? How do you make your words count? What’s one thing you do that helps you speak words of life, especially when they are hard truths?