“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.”
Several years ago I ran into a young man at a wedding that I used to work with, but hadn’t seen in a few years. I asked how and what he was doing and he explained, among other things, that he had moved out to the opposite coast and was now living in Oregon.
I was surprised for a number of reasons and when I asked him why the move, he told me it was because of something I said to him once, several years earlier, and he decided to take my advice.
At first I thought he had mistaken me for someone else because, A) no one really listens to me, and B) even if they did, they wouldn’t listen to me.
Curious, I asked what kind of advice I could have possibly given that would cause him to move three thousand miles away. He said I once told him that if he woke up one morning, put his feet on the ground and was not happy with where he was, he should have the courage to do whatever was necessary to make a change in his life.
He told that story to his wife about a year after they got married and soon after, they left their jobs and started a new life on a different coast.
They have such power over us. More than we care to admit to sometimes.
They can change a life, save a life or destroy a life. They are free, priceless and sometimes carry burdens that last a lifetime.
They leave scars.
They soften and harden hearts.
For all that we know about words and the kind of impact they have on each of us, we sometimes remain careless with them.
Especially with children.
Words can affect adults in many of the same ways they do children. They can make us feel incredibly special or drop us to our knees. The difference, I think, is that adults can sometimes rationalize or explain away the negative comments. They can bounce back by understanding the source or respond by standing up to those words. Children, especially younger children, don’t have those same abilities. Too often they believe what they hear and may internalize those feelings for years. Sometimes it begins to shape their lives.
Being a parent can be challenging at times. I don’t know a parent who doesn’t try to do the right thing when it comes to their children. Or at least believes they are.
You know, volume is a funny thing. There have been times when I’ve heard a band play a song live and the music is so loud, I couldn’t hear the words. Children are no different. Sometimes, when the volume is too high, they just hear the noise, which can be as damaging as the words they can’t hear.
Sometimes we think we’re disciplining our children when we’re only inflicting our control over them. There’s a big difference between the two, just as there is between encouragement and constant critiques. Parents sometimes attempt to live their own lives through their children, instead of allowing them to grow, make mistakes and find their own way through life.
All these actions involve words.
With children, words have a greater impact and last much longer. The control or influence we think we have as parents, only lasts a few years. Rebellion, much longer.
They will remember. And when they’re old enough, they will understand and make their own decisions and choices.
Then the impact of words may be reversed. Strange how that works.
You know, the funny thing is, I didn’t remember having that conversation with that young man I spoke with. Even after he told me about it and I tried to go back in my memory and remember when I may have said it, I couldn’t.
But he did. And that’s the point.
That’s the blessing and the curse about words.
You may not remember what was said today, especially when it comes to children.
But they will.
And one day, you may have to eat what you planted.