It’s kind of shocking how much power we have over one another. The words we speak are capable of making — or ruining — the days of those around us. Snapping at a parent after a long day has the power to crush the spirit of someone you care about. But in the same way, a kind word to a friend who needs it can mean the world.
Have you ever been fully aware of the impact of your words? It seems to me that for most of our lives, we have no idea how much weight there is in the things we say to each other. But once in awhile, someone around you makes it perfectly clear that they were touched by something you said. And sometimes it’s not the words that are said, but the way you say them, that really make the difference.
At the beginning of this month, I was lucky enough to tag along with the Village Voices on their annual choir tour. On a sunny Friday morning, we loaded up a 25-passenger bus with our clothes, food, books, and selves, and headed down to Oklahoma City for a weekend. The ride down was stuffy (okay, it was downright sweltering) and we were exhausted once we arrived. But we had come for a reason: we were there to sing. So each day, we would pack ourselves back into that toasty bus, drive to a retirement home, and share a little music with folks who needed it.
Generally speaking, people past a certain age have no problem telling you exactly what their thoughts are on pretty much anything, which can be either scary or really refreshing. In the case of the residents who listened to the choir sing, it was pretty amazing to hear their unfiltered thoughts. It was one of those times when you realize what sort of impact that the words we say — or sing — to one another can have. The joy that was brought to the faces of the people that listened (as well as their compliments after each performance) showed us how much it meant to them that we were there.
People came streaming out of their rooms, peeked over balconies, got up from their meals just to listen to the choir sing. At one performance, a resident stood up and started dancing to a Handel piece (which doesn’t exactly have a dance-y beat). She had a huge smile on her face, and not a care in the world. She pulled me up to dance with her, and it was hard to keep from laughing because of the happiness on her face. All because a group of 16 kids came and sang for her that day. An act of kindness that seemed so small to us meant so much to her. And it was incredible to see.
So I challenge you to be aware of the power your words hold, whether you sing them or you speak them. I was able to see firsthand on our trip to Oklahoma just how happy you can make someone — or many people — simply with the assurance of a kind word. They don’t always seem important to us when we say them, but it’s impossible to know how much our words mean to those we say them to. So say them with love.