Did you know that on average people speak between 500-700 words of actual value a day? Oh yes, it's true that we speak thousands of words in a day, but according to research, only a fraction of those hold real weight. I hope that by the time you have finished reading this story, you will be inspired to weigh your words and pack as much kindness, authenticity, and encouragement into your daily allotment of valuable words as possible. Who knows? Maybe we can raise that number to 1,000 words that matter.
In between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I had a pretty significant jaw surgery due to a class 3 underbite. When I say significant, I mean 8 hours of surgery to make all the changes necessary to my mouth and nasal cavity. To be honest, I have tried to repress most of the memories from that time, but there are several that have remained with me, and one in particular was so impactful that I have never forgotten it. And yes, it had to do with words.
Unfortunately, I was unable to speak for several weeks after the surgery because I was so swollen. This was a problem since I speak many many words in a normal day! I enjoy conversation, telling stories, and just discussing life with my friends and family, so this season of life was very challenging for me. I remember it was a day or two after the surgery, and I was still in the hospital. I had to text everything I wanted to say to my mom and the nurses, and I was so frustrated. I had used my phone's camera screen to look at myself (bad idea) and was instantly shocked and scared. What had I done? Was this the right decision? In the span of eight hours, my physical identity had changed for good. The swelling and blood did not help the situation, and to be honest I looked dreadful. Downright ugly. And I felt ugly too.
I was texting a friend and trying to sound more upbeat than I felt. It was all pretty normal and happy until at the end of one of my texts I said, "you should be glad you don't have to see me right now because I look pretty...interesting." That was a code word for "ugly." But this is where those 500-700 words come in to play. My friend could have easily texted back a simple, "Oh no! That doesn't sound fun." Or, "It's ok! Soon you'll look amazing!" But instead, I received the following as part of their message: "I'm sure you look like your beautiful self!"
Wow. I have never forgotten that text mostly because in that moment (and for moments prior in my life) I had not felt beautiful. I had looked different than other people, had avoided certain camera angles so as not to accentuate my underbite, and had fielded many questions regarding the shape of my face. But in that moment, I realized that someone had thought I was beautiful, and because I knew the type of person they were, I knew that they were not just being nice. They meant it, and their words were like rays of sunshine that quickly dispersed my dark feelings from moments before. Words have power.
What about you? Just in case no one has told you in a while, you are beautiful! You have so much to offer this world, and a big part of that is your words. 500-700 words is the length of this blogpost. Not much in the grand scheme of twelve to fourteen hours depending on how long you are awake during the day. The Bible says that "Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). I challenge you to make your words count. Look around! Who in your life could use some life-giving, encouraging, and impactful words? Ask Jesus to give you the right words at the right time so that you can make the most out of them. You never know how they might bless someone for years to come!
Alissa Tanguay is the host of Carved to Beautify. She enjoys reflecting on the words God has spoken into her life through people, and she hopes to share words of hope through the Carved to Beautify podcast and blog ministry.