As a puppy, Lily was enrolled in an obedience class. Our trainer there told us that an adult German Shepherd has about the same vocabulary as a three-year-old child. Really? That fact seemed impressive to a non-mother like myself.
Now that Lily is an adult dog, I’ve never counted the number of words she knows. But I will say there are some surprising ones in her collection. Not just the usual sit, stay, come; she knows inside, outside, upstairs, bowl, going, Bucky (a much loved plush toy) and many others. One of her favorites is airport.
Not that she knows an airport is a place for planes. Lily recognizes that word means the door to the silver chariot (car in Lily-speak) will open and she’ll be transported to meet my husband, Richard. Smart dog that she is, she knows the exact exit to the airport and once we reach the roadway circling it, she’ll intently scan the crowds to find him. Her excited whining in the back seat alerts me when Lily has spotted him. Once Richard opens the car door, she practically jumps in his arms, her tail wagging so rapidly its rotations would humiliate most helicopters.
Words matter. Not just to a dog, but to us humans. Who among us doesn’t need more words of praise, acceptance, encouragement? Words literally have the power to breathe life into our souls. But they can also damage. The old adage says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Won’t hurt me? Don’t you carry painful memories of a hurtful words spoken to you from childhood or your teenage years?
1 Corinthians 13:1 states, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” The truth is we need others to gently, softly, speak words of love into our lives. When life is harsh or even when it isn’t, we crave words that lift us up, deliver strength and bring healing to our fragile hearts.
So I wonder if all of us need more words of encouragement, why don’t we speak them more often? Why do we let our words drip with the bitterness of judgment, disapproval, coldness? Words can change the world because they have the power to transform the hearer’s soul – positively or negatively. It is our choice. I believe, when we use our words to bring a smile to another, the heart of God smiles also.
So let’s make today the day we feed the hunger in our souls for love by speaking love into the lives of others. Let’s make every day one where we use our words to build others up, offer grace, convey understanding, promote acceptance.
In your own way, in your own words, you can transform the world.