Knowing the right thing to say at the right time is a gift—and a skill. To the one who receives those right words at the right time—the words themselves are a gift. I have been the recipient of “fitly spoken words” many times. In fact, the other day I texted a friend and asked her to pray for me about a specific need. Immediately she typed out her prayer for me. It was perfectly appropriate and I was deeply touched. I printed it off and have it close by so that I can re-read her words of encouragement.
Whether it’s congratulatory remarks upon completion of a difficult project; words of encouragement to one who is struggling and hurting; or even a gentle reprimand when needed, our words can be a lifeline.
No one likes to be criticized. As a mom of teenagers, I often find myself delivering exactly that. And then I catch myself, offer apologies and ask for forgiveness for my impatience and lack of understanding.
Years ago, Florence Littauer wrote a book titled Silver Boxes. She talks about the impact our words have on those around us. It’s been many years since I read it, but I’ll never forget the visual she used: Our words should be a gift, with a bow on top. It was so impactful that I made my own as a reminder. Eventually, though, I put it away.