Have you ever stuck your foot in your mouth while trying to encourage someone? I sure have. It can be hard to know what to say when someone is hurting.
I remember when my friend was distraught at a contest judge who unfairly disqualified our team’s entry because we had won the year before.
Justice was lost, and she was feeling sad and wronged. As an encourager, I wanted to cheer her up, you know, inspire her a little, so I said, “Let’s look at the bright side, we had fun together, bonded as friends and a team; I think we did great and we don’t need the prize to know that.”
Her response was, “Can you just back off for a second and let me be mad?”
The look on my face must have displayed my shock. Another friend jumped in and said, “She is venting and just needs to get it out.”
I have known her for a long time, and I should have known that my silver lining was choking her venting process at that moment.
I minimized when I should have empathized.
It would have been better for both of us had I said, “That is hard; I’ll bet that is disappointing.”
Putting your foot in your mouth doesn’t feel right, does it? It is easy for us to try to do the right thing in the wrong way.
Have you ever had a time when someone has tried to encourage you, but failed?
Maybe like my friend, you needed someone to listen to and, instead, someone tried to fix it. Perhaps, rather than encouraging you, their words loaded you up with pressure, anxiety, or condemnation.
Encouragement should not be draining or frustrating. It has the potential to release hope and life.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (NASB)
Today, we have 15 or more types of sugar that we can use to sweeten something. In ancient Biblical culture, nothing was as sweet as honey from the honeycomb. In Solomon’s day, they would use honey because there wasn’t any corn syrup or refined sugar. Honey’s sweet taste was unlike anything else.
The Israelites also used honey as a medicine. They had no modern drugs, no antibiotics, and no hand sanitizers. Honey is very healing to the skin, and it acts as an antiseptic for skin wounds.
Solomon selected these words with great intention. He tells us that just as honeycomb is healthy for our bodies – so beautiful words are for our souls.
When we speak gracious and pleasant words to others, it is healing to those who hear them. The first step to applying Solomon’s wisdom in our life is to look for those opportunities.
Where do you see bitter that could use a little sweet?
In today’s world, we see bitterness all around us, primarily online. When searching for an image to describe pleasant words, Solomon chose honey, sweet to the taste, and healing to the body. There is so much value in taking the time to encourage someone, or to add a little something sweet to a bitter situation. Your sweet words can bring life during painful times.
Where do you see wounds that can use a little salve?
Where is there woundedness, disappointment, tragedy, loss? Honey is a salve that brings healing; we want to speak words of healing like honey is to a wound. We don’t want to further hurt people who are already hurting by speaking recklessly.
Use your words as a healing influence on others. Who do you see in your day-to-day life that may need to hear, “You are stronger than you think,” “You have what it takes to get through this,” or “I believe in you”?
Words are powerful, and knowing how to use them takes knowledge.
Where do you see an opportunity to pull up a seat and listen?
When you encounter a need, take the pressure off of yourself. You don’t have to be a wise person with all the answers. There is no need to fix it or fill the space; you need to enter the room and have a seat. Sometimes the best words are no words.
You may find yourself in situations where you have the hold hope for someone until they can hold it for themselves.
For more ways to encourage those in your life, watch or listen to the Full Message Here.