You’ve heard the expression, ‘Think before you speak’ a hundred times, and probably shrugged it off just like that other insightful phrase, ‘Your face will freeze like that if you’re not careful.’ But unlike a facial expression, our words do stick around. Which means everything you say – from what tell your friends, whisper about your enemies, post online, mutter to yourself, or even say to the stranger in the coffee shop – carries a whole lot of power.
The question is, are you ready to use that power to make a real difference? Because the truth is, you could be part of the first generation who uses their words to build up and not tear down, and even kill the mean girl mentality.
Through very funny stories, Scripture, and a real understanding of the good, bad, and ugly ways we can use our words, Annie Downs explores in her new book, Speak Love, the difference you can make when you speak love to others, to God, and even to yourself. Because when you speak love, you speak life.
We can choose to let our words be those that make us feel good for the moment but wreck the heart of someone else, or we can use the words that mirror the kind we could hear our Savior say! Annie has a challenge for you—for me, for us—to let our words speak hope, truth, joy, peace. . . we gotta speak love. – from the foreword to the book by Christian performing artist Jamie-Grace
So why not learn more about speaking love from the author who wrote the book on it. . . literally!
Q & A with Annie Downs
We sat down with Annie for a quick chat before our live event on October 1 (you can still register here). Here are some Q&A that offer some further insight into why Annie wrote the book.
Q. You want to use your book Speak Love to inspire today’s teens to be the first generation to use their words to build up and not tear down. Do you see a lot of tearing down among young people? What kind of effects have you seen from it?
A. I think we all see how words are negatively affecting the next generation. We can look in the news at the ways cyberbullying is impacting students- from hurt feelings to suicides and everything in between- and see that words are more powerful than we give them credit. And I remember clearly when others used words towards me that hurt and when I’ve hurt others. The Bible says that our words are always either creating life or death. We need to live like that is true.
Q. Teen girls seem to be notorious for being mean to each other. The phrase “mean girls” has even become part of our vernacular. Why are girls so mean to each other?
A. Girls are unkind to each other mainly because they are insecure and looking for their place. They want to belong. So if they have to kick someone else out of the “belong” spot in order to get in, they will. In most cases, I don’t believe that girls enjoy being mean, I think they are just wounded and searching. And when we don’t teach them another way to handle their insecurities, the default response is often the mean girl mentality.
Q. What is your advice to the mean girls and victims out there?
A. To the mean girls, I would say it’s time to stop. There are healthier more long term solutions to the pain you are experiencing that won’t involve you inflicting pain on others. I think, in your heart of hearts, you don’t like being the mean girl. And you don’t have to be. To the victims, I’m so sorry. I hate that someone has decided to wound you because they themselves are wounded. Don’t believe what they say, don’t swallow it down as truth. You were made on purpose and you serve a unique purpose on this planet. Remember the truth of who God is and how He feels about you.
Q. You also address speaking positively to ourselves. How much does our self-talk affect us?
A. We do a real injustice to ourselves if we don’t pay attention to the words we use towards ourselves. What you believe about yourself reflects into the relationships and experiences you have and a lot of what you believe is based on what you say. The Bible instructs us to love others as we love ourselves- we have to take BOTH of those directives seriously.
Q. How much does self-talk affect the way we speak to others?
A. The way you talk to yourself spills over in the way you interact with others. If you are graceless with yourself, you are probably graceless with other people as well, whether you say it outloud or not. When you are kind to yourself, allow yourself room to grow and change and make mistakes, you are more likely to love others the same way.
Q. What made you want to address this subject?
A. When I was on the Girls of Grace tour in 2012-2013, I spoke on the topic of the power of words. After every event, weekend after weekend, leaders and girls alike would come to my merch table and want to talk. They wanted to share their story of the mean girl or their hope for the way words could be used to change our culture. It was apparent then, and continues to be, that this is one of the most pressing topics that Christian teen girls are dealing with.
Q. What kind of response have you seen among teen girls when you talk about this subject?
A. They all have a story. Every one of them. They remember when someone encouraged them with life-giving words and they can remember the broken feeling of being torn down by words. The topic is so near and dear to them and it is something that they deal with every single day.
Q. Can one person choosing to Speak Lovereally make a difference?
A. Yes. Absolutely. Because it has a ripple effect- you speak love to one friend and that friend is encouraged to do the same. One girl decides to stand up to the mean girl and then another and another and soon she has lost her power and is looking for healing. One girl deciding to change how she uses her words can change more lives than she’ll ever see.
Q.What advice would you give to a young person who wants to get on board and change her words and positively influence the world around her?
A. DO IT. Just start. Say the kind thing. Say the brave thing. Tweet the compliment. Instagram the Bible verse. Start using your words to change your world.
Join the Webinar
We hope you will join us for the Annie Downs Speak Love webinar tomorrow, Tuesday October 1, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. EST / 5:00 p.m. PST.
Click here to register in advance or paste this in your browser: http://www.faithgateway.com/live-chat-with-annie-downs
WHO IS THIS LIVE CHAT FOR?
- Women of all ages who care about the power of words and how to use your words well to make a difference for Christ.
- Parents of tweens and teens who want to encourage their kids to speak life into those around them.
- Teens who want to change the culture.
- Anyone who is a fan of Annie Downs!
During the webinar you can submit your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #SpeakLoveNow to @FaithGateway and be entered to win a free copy of the book, Speak Love! We’ll be drawing five winners at random during the webinar to receive copies of the book! We hope you will join us tomorrow night!