“Tell me we’re doing the right thing” she pleaded. I heard these words on a phone call recently, and they startled me. They came from a woman I deeply admire who is the director of a long-term program for women who have been sexually exploited. I have looked up to her for a long time for the way she works and leads her program with strong dedication, heart, and love. She always seemed so brave and fearless, yet here she was struggling and seeking validation.
She was struggling with many aspects: issues with some of the residents, staffing decisions to be made, and program guidelines. I understood. This work is hard and complex. We talked through some of the issues, but then she paused and said those words, “tell me we’re doing the right thing.” There was desperation in them. There was a longing to know that this battle, this long struggle, this engaging in someone else’s despair was worth it. Did her effort really matter?
After my initial reaction of being startled by those words, I recognized that she too needed affirmation. She needed to be reminded of her purpose and value, not just as the director of a program that was making an incredible, life altering, and eternal impact on women, but also that she mattered apart from that role. She holds intrinsic value by the Creator whose image she bears. She was so deeply engaged in the work that she needed to step back and look up and into the eyes of the One who loved her first.
I said all of these things to her and tried to speak life into her weary soul. And as I did, I thought about the power of our words.
“The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).
I was thankful that she recognized that she was struggling and sought out validation, but I also felt conviction over assuming that she knew her value. I hung up that phone call with a greater determination to be intentional about using my words to encourage and remind others of their value. Recognizing the power of words, I choose to speak life.
Rachel Davis is the Senior Project Analyst at Wellspring International.