The Power of Words

Photo by  Brett Jordan  on  Unsplash

We are about to get real here. Hope you are ready.

I’ll admit, I am not always kind to myself. Especially when I look in the mirror.

For as long as I can remember, I have silently battled some form of body image issue. This is not the time or place for all of the details on that, but let’s hang. I’ll share with you more if you want.

But for now, I just want to share how my body image issues have begun to trickle down to my girls.

I have three little girls, 5 and under. Not too long ago, I was looking through some pictures on my phone with my oldest. I thought they were so cute of all three of them together in their swimsuits in our backyard. But my oldest did not think they were cute pictures.

As we were looking, she started getting a disgusted look on her face. She started making weird noises like she does when she does not like something. So I asked her what was wrong.

She said, “Mom, I don’t like those pictures. My tummy is yucky.”

I looked at her with a pit in my throat. She is 5. How can she already think her tummy looks yucky? I said with as much strength as I could muster in that moment, “Darling, you are beautiful in every way. Don’t ever let anyone or anything change your mind about that.”

I had tears in my eyes over this conversation, and so did my husband, Beav. As a mom of daughters, I never want them to battle body image problems like I have. I know what that struggle can do to a person. I know it too well.

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I started wondering how she could have possibly gotten that language to describe her body. And it hit me.

She got it from me.

No, not from me about her directly.

But she heard me say it to myself.

Sometimes on my bad days, I am not so kind to myself when I look in the mirror. Most of the time it is in silence, and then I move on. But every once in a while, it is not silent. Beav is usually the only one around, or so I’ve thought.

I guess sometimes those unkind words slip when my kids are in the room. And she heard me. And she began at some point to wonder if her body was yucky, too.

This is so vulnerable for me to write that I am literally shaking, but it has to be said.

Woman, mom, sister, friend. The thoughts you have about yourself (positive or negative) will eventually come out the longer they are in your head. And someone is listening.

If our words are unkind to self or others, guess what? Our kids WILL repeat them. They will start to say that they are ugly or fat or yucky. They will say they are dumb or annoying or a failure. Or they will say that someone else is those things. The power of our words goes beyond what we could ever comprehend.

Imagine what our world, our families, our friendships, our offices, or our minds would be like if we kept a closer watch over our tongue.

So my simple encouragement for you is this: Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your family. Be kind to others. The words you say will have an impact for many years to come, so keep watch over them. Use them to build up, and not tear down. Use them to speak life, not death. Use them to bring light, not darkness.

Because you never want to hear your little girl tell you that she is “yucky.” It will break you.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life… No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brother [and sister], these things ought not to be so” (James 3:5–10, emphasis mine).