Since I expressed my frustration with the “wait until they’re in high school” comment, and Terri mentioned in the comments that people just aren’t thinking when they say things like that, and I agree completely, I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality in words.
There are some things we just say, cultural responses to a particular time-in-life, kind-of-person, type-of-gathering, etc. To a single person, we ask if he/she is seeing someone. To a newly married couple, we ask about babies. To someone who has had a baby, we ask about more. Gosh, I’m 40 with a girl and a boy and I still get asked All The Time if we are going to have more. (For the record, it’s not in the plan. Also–I could make about 5 posts out of what I just said there, but I think I’ll refrain.) When someone graduates, we ask what they’re doing now (and that’s not a sore topic for me or anything… :)) etc., etc., etc. And sometimes these are good friends who are genuinely interested (and that’s a different case). And sometimes they’re just things to say.
This essay by Lisa Bloom about talking to little girls appeared in Huff Po in June. Her thesis is that when the first thing we say when we see a little girl is how adorable, cute, lovely she looks, we are teaching her that looks are more important than anything else. Again, it’s the idea of thinking about what we say and the messages we are sending.
And I’m reading Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry by Debra Rienstra and Ron Rienstra. It’s all about being intentional with the words one uses in worship, all the words: sermon, yes, but also scripture, songs, prayers, liturgy, etc. For a word person, it’s kind of a delightful read, at least the preface, introduction, and beginning of the first chapter.
So I’m thinking about intentionality in words. There are people who NEVER make those statements I mentioned above. They don’t ask the obvious question or make the thoughtless remark. I alluded to them in my other post, too. The funny thing is, I think I don’t notice the absence of such remarks as I do the presence. I have to think about it to realize they don’t make those simple statements that “everyone” makes. I’m not one of them. I have my own set of statements I make. But I want to be. I want to be intentional. I want to think about what I am saying and say only those things that, to quote a favorite verse of my fathers, “build others up according to their needs” (from Ephesians 4:29 NIV, emphasis mine). It’s a lot to think about and tough to do, but I know it’s possible because I know people who do it, and I appreciate them, and I’m pretty sure it’s an intentionality thing.