Little bit of a long post today, so I want to do some housekeeping first:
-Don’t forget the movie scene challenge! Recreate your favorite movie scene and debut it at Youth Group next Wednesday the 8th!
-We’re going to be setting up a movie-night care package pick-up at VCPC on Friday, July 10! I’ll announce the pick-up time in next week’s news blast.
-Netflix Party on Saturday, July 11 @ 6:30pm. Submit ideas for movies to watch!

Words have meaning beyond their dictionary definition. The way we speak to others and to ourselves has an impact. We may not see it at first, we may not feel it at first, but inevitably the way we speak will affect somebody.

Proverbs 12:18
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
       but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

If words can be weapons or instruments of healing, then we better know how and when to use them. Swordsmanship is dangerous not just to opponents, but to the swordsman. If a swordsman doesn’t know how to use a weapon, they can deal just as much damage to themselves as to others.

I want to encourage you to think on two questions:

Question 1: How do we speak of/to others?

How do you treat your friends? What do you refer to yourselves as? The words you use to describe each other, even in jest, can have a real impact on the way you perceive the world. Are you using kind words? Do you speak to lift each other up?

I know friends often tear each other down, for the sake of humor. I also know that sometimes this goes too far. I know that when I was younger, I didn’t think that my words carried much meaning, and so I was reckless in my speech. I was insensitive and made mean jokes to my friends. I didn’t know I was hurting anyone. Heck, my self-esteem was so low I didn’t know I could hurt others! To get past this, I had to examine why I felt that my words carried no weight or meaning. I think some of it came from privilege, but I think a lot of it came from adults in my life who, from a very young age, had a harsh way of speaking to me. I think, now, that I pretended words didn’t have significance so that I wouldn’t have to dwell on or deal with the way words had scarred me.

We all know the expression “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

I think reality is more like:

Well, I don’t think reality necessarily has to be this way, since we can heal from these wounds through introspection, prayer, therapy, and challenging our internal narrative, but it is very hard, painful work.

I know each of us has been hurt by words, to varying degrees, so I encourage you to think on the way you speak of/to others.

Proverbs 16:24
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Question 2: How do you speak of/to yourself?

Are you kind to yourself? The way we speak to ourselves and the way we choose to describe ourselves quite literally defines who we think we are. If I tell myself everyday that I think I am ugly, I will think I am ugly regardless of what anyone else thinks of me. It may not be accurate, but the words I choose to use about myself shape my perception of who I am. If the tongue of the reckless “pierces like a sword” then our reckless words can do serious damage to our spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being, which can, in turn, affect our physical well-being.

This is why kind, nourishing, uplifting words are the only ones we should use to describe ourselves. Affirm to yourselves that you are intelligent, capable, beautiful, and loved. If you have something you want to work on about yourselves, then use words emphasizing what you aspire to be, and not words that lament who you think you are not.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we must first love ourselves. I don’t mean to oversimplify. It can be difficult and uncomfortable.

I have a challenge for you.

Think of ten positive words to describe yourself.
Write them on sticky notes, or paper, or a whiteboard, or whatever surface you have available, but you need to put them somewhere you will see them every day.
Once a day I want you to go down that list of ten words and say “I am [insert word here]” for each word on the list. You may be uncomfortable and you may feel a little cheesy, but that’s okay.
I want you to try this for a week and see how it changes your perception of yourself, and your outlook on life.

This was a long entry, thanks for sticking with me.

Peace of Christ be with you,
Marshall Lauck

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