There is an old story about an elderly couple who was approaching their 50th wedding anniversary. They had planned a small celebration with family and close friends. As the special day approached, the wife ventured to share a concern she had about the relationship with her husband.
“You know, dear, it has been a very long time since you’ve said, ‘I love you.’ In fact, I can’t remember the last time you said it.” She held her breathe, hopeful for some sign of affection.
The husband growled, “I told you on our wedding day. If I change my mind, I will let you know!”
It’s a wonder that this couple had managed to be married for so long.
Spoken words are powerful. Words left unspoken also carry a power of their own. They morph by people’s imaginations. Assumptions run wild.
There are four phrases that should be spoken often.
- I love you (or I care about you). Relationships need to be nurtured. At home and in the workplace, people need to know they matter to you. With my husband and kids, I made a commitment to say “I love you” every day before they left the house. If something unexpectedly tragic happened, I wanted my last words to be “I love you.” When spoken, the expression of affection builds others up.
- I appreciate you. It’s important to mention specific actions or attributes that you appreciate. Naming somebody’s strengths and talents affirms their positive qualities and encourages them to continue expressing them. Appreciation also creates a sense of value in the hearer.
- I’m sorry. Be genuine and mention what you are sorry about. Admitting that you are wrong and sorry establishes a safe environment. Mistakes are learning opportunities. By your example, others will be encouraged to take ownership for their actions and apologize for wrong-doing.
- I forgive you. Embrace the humility of Jesus and be quick to forgive. Let go of pride and refuse to hold a grudge. We receive God’s forgiveness when we forgive others. The LORD has graciously forgiven us and continues to forgives, and empowers us to walk in forgiveness toward others.
Let’s bless others with our words. May we speak words of life and love, building people up and glorifying the LORD. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NLT).