On one hand, my family is a family of words.
A family of “Family Nice Things,” of bolting for a spot next to Mom or Dad in the circle and sharing loving appreciation.
A family of notes slipped under doors, of terrible spelling, messy handwriting and messages of “I love you,” or “You’re the best.”
Sometimes we hear the saying “actions speak louder than words.” In some cases, this may be true. Certainly, we are counseled in the New Testament to be “doers of the word, not hearers only.”
But, this family of words has taught me just how important words are: how they can lift, how they can degrade, how they can inspire, how they can limit.
In a post for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Steve Ritch wrote, “The ‘right’ words can mean the difference between being misunderstood or being clear in your communications. Well-timed words mean the difference between being hopeful and supportive or judgmental and condescending.”
This is true whether we use words in conversation or written down in a note or novel. Choosing the “right words” to read or give to another person can change the path you go down.
However, this is not to say actions do not have their place.
So, on the other hand, my family is one of action.
A family of poking people awake to let them know we made them a smoothie.
A family of cheering so loud we lose our voices and of taking photos at the finish line or at curtain calls.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.”
Our actions say a lot about who we are. They build habits and inform others about the things we value, love or trust.
“The decisions we make and the way we behave are what ultimately shape our character,” said Wayne S. Peterson, a previous member of the Seventy. “Charles A. Hall aptly described that process in these lines: ‘We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny.’”
If thoughts and words become our actions, aren’t both equally important?
In the end, this feels true to me. Because thinking back, almost every significant moment in my life has been a mix of both.
Luckily, my family is both one of words and one of actions.
A family whose notes often point out that the messenger made the bed as well.
A family who talks each other through their problems and gives hugs.
A family who says they love each other and then proves it.