A few years ago, I was writing a reflection on Song of Solomon 1:9 which says, “You are as exciting, my darling, as a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions” (NLT). I dared my readers to give that line a try and let me know how it worked out for them. Haha! I mean, Solomon was definitely waxing eloquent that day. I’m sure his beloved melted at the comparison with horses. Right? The thing about it worth imitating, though, is the fact that he got creative and chose these exact words to express how he felt about his girl. He didn’t care what you or I would think—he wasn’t afraid to say it!
Read today’s scripture text from Mark 11 again. Wow, right? In a reflection of the way God speaks things into existence, sometimes we get exactly what we say. Words are powerful. For example, if you roll into the day saying, “This day is going to be horrible,” you’ll probably succeed in having that bad day. And we know people who were told they were no good... and they lived into those words.
All this makes me think of the idea of self–fulfilling prophecy. There are two ways this tends to play out. First is self–imposed in nature. Our thoughts, assumptions, expectations, and the words we speak influence our own actions, leading down a pathway that we establish and follow all the way to the end of the road we’ve placed our feet upon. The other is known as the Pygmalion effect. After swearing to never love again, the mythological sculptor Pygmalion crafted a statue that was stunningly lifelike and unbelievably beautiful. So much so that he fell in love. A hop, skip, and jump later, his mythical wish being granted, the statue came to life, and he was soon wedded to his own creation. Our words can be a double-edged sword: Just as a relationship can be doomed by speaking negatively about it, it can also be boosted through using positive words.
I work with a guy named Jim who I noticed never spoke about his “wife” Missy; instead, he has a “bride.” His is an example worth imitating. Think about it: What is a bride? She’s the beloved, young and fair, beautiful. When I talk about Sara, I follow Jim’s example and talk about my “bride.” And when I call or text her, I call her, “Beautiful.” Sara truly is my beautiful bride, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud! Think about the words you speak to or about your spouse. Are you getting what you’re saying?
Are you reaping a result, good or bad, from the words you’re speaking? Is the result desirable, something you’ll continue to do? If not, how might you adjust your language to see something different emerge from your relationship?