We can quickly notice if a plant is not thriving, if it’s not getting the nourishment and moisture that it needs to grow. However, like with our own relational growth, we can’t actually see it growing. We may only realise that something is amiss when the plant turns yellow and the leaves flop over.
We are needing to become more cognizant of what’s happening in our own growth and to become aware of how we either give or take life. We all utter and receive words daily as we try to connect with others. These may be used to bolster our self-image. Or, we may appear to listen, but just be waiting to give our own opinion in order to appear knowledgeable. We may sense the unspoken power struggles between us leaving us either empowered or disempowered. Our words can be used to hurt when we dismiss someone through prejudice or contempt. Or, they can be used positively to express love and delight in another, or to show that we feel with them.
Most of us have developed our own ‘theme tune’ in the way we choose to speak and it helps to become aware of it. Each word we choose comes out of our past experience, but what we think we are communicating and what the other is hearing might be very different. The same words ‘land’ in our hearts in very different places. We will only feel understood by another when our feelings overlap and we realise that the other has ‘got’ us. It is then that we feel seen and validated. Often when we offend others it surprises us. It may be that we have unintentionally touched a very sensitive area.
As we risk slowing down, and becoming more real, we can listen deeper, both to ourselves and to others. Then we can learn to hear what we’ve been missing before and can start to create a life-giving space where others feel safe. Like a plant, we are all vulnerable, needing nurture and sustenance. Giving life through our words is our profound gift and responsibility. With practice we can become more and more skilled in telling others what good we see in them, for we all depend on others to supply our emotional needs. Our joy is to become life-givers, to both give and receive rich words that strengthen, encourage and enliven us and others.