Words that Stick
Years ago, when the girls were young, Steve attended an out-of-town conference for a few days, and before he left home he posted several sticky notes around the house for our girls and me to find. Prominently displayed on the inside of my bedroom door was a note that read, “Sara, you are an awesome mom, and you are going to do great with the kids while I’m away.” What a boost of encouragement to begin my day! Later that morning, when my daughter was unloading the dishwasher she discovered a post-it from dad that read, “Daddy loves his girls.” The girls were delighted to find other sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, on their closet door, and on the TV.
The unexpected excitement we felt from this simple, thoughtful act of love lifted us all. Steve found a way to build us up and to remind us of what was true and right, even though he wasn’t there with us.
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” How can we as parents strengthen our children? How can we build up our spouse?
Words of affirmation, encouragement, and verbal or written expressions of love can be treasures that will keep on giving. How many times have you replayed something over in your head that someone has said to you? Maybe it was something that cut deeply and hurt, and you can’t shake that voice in your head. Or have you been paid a compliment that comes to mind again later in the day? Have you ever kept a thank you note or a love letter and reread it years down the road? Why? Because words have power!
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
Our words can bring life and death to those we love. Can you feel the weight and responsibility of that power?
If you are like me, when reading that verse you had multiple examples flash in your mind of how your words (or maybe the tone of your words) did not bring life to a family member. Our loved ones eat the fruit of our words, and too often we are dispersing “rotten fruit” laced with deadly poison through our words. So, how can we change that and bring life through our words?
I encourage you to take the “Sticky Note Challenge.” Buy a pack of sticky notes and use them to encourage and build up people in your family. Keeping it small, post-it note sized, makes this task manageable and repeatable. You don’t need a five paragraph essay with supporting arguments to build someone up. Just use these little notes to pass along life-giving words that will “stick.”
There are so many ways you can bring life to your family through the “Sticky Note Challenge.” Just say, “I love you.” “I’m proud of you.” “Thanks for being you.” Stick these notes in clever places where they will be surprised by them throughout the day. You can use these notes to speak truth. Jot down a reference to a Bible verse. You can praise character traits that you see in them. “You are a such hard worker! Thanks for studying diligently.” Or, you can start a conversation with a post-it note and build a bridge toward reconciliation. “I’m sorry I was short with you. Can we talk?”
Celebrate this month of thanksgiving by writing things you are thankful for on your notes. Be cautious, however, not to only praise performance-based acts like “thanks for taking out the trash.” It’s great to express gratitude for what people do, but it is even more powerful when you link their work to a character trait you appreciate about them. For example, “Thanks for taking out the trash. You consistently look for ways to serve our family.”
Try it! See what happens in your home by taking the “Sticky Note Challenge.” You may find that someone in your family would like to reciprocate by using sticky notes to express themselves. Keep the stack in a noticeable place where they can be used by others. Maybe you could put a pack of sticky notes in everyone’s stocking this year at Christmas as a way to foster words of encouragement.
By setting the example and purposefully building others up, you will discover the power of your words and bring life to your family.
Let us know how you and your family are using the “Sticky Note Challenge” in the comments below.