Every now and then I would post something on Facebook, share a tweet or write a blog post and a reader would comment with only two words: “Well said.”
This response would often bother me — a lot.
You see, we live in a society where people talk too much but do very little to translate their words into action. Social media platforms have made us armchair activists. For many of us, the only time we lift a finger to help another human being is when typing about it on a keyboard.
Yet, despite this overwhelming evidence of inaction, we all claim to value action; we celebrate and applaud real, tangible, service over mere lip service. Even the Bible says that true Christians will be known, not by the doctrines they profess, but by the fruit they display.
“You will know them by their fruit,” said Jesus. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” adds James, the brother of Jesus.
So, whenever someone would applaud me for writing a good story or expressing an idea well, my insecurities would bubble up and I would receive such affirmation with a sense of skepticism and guilt. My anxiety would lead me to dark thoughts of: “Was that a jab at the fact that I am all bark and no bite?”
This would lead me into a spiral of self-doubt, especially when I thought about how little I do to make this world a better place. I was sold on the idea that the only way to help someone was to do the more glamorous, tangible work of (especially) giving money. Put your money where your mouth is, they say.
This is despite the fact that the reason I wasn’t giving much was because I didn’t have much to give. The world had established the standard, and I either met that standard or I was a hypocrite for claiming to help humanity through my words.
But I have come to learn that words are necessary. They are powerful and often effective. If the history of the publishing industry is anything to go by, words are worth unimaginable amounts of money. People would pay a lot of money to read and listen to a motivational speaker. Words can change the world, and words well said are potent.
Yes, kind words are a type of fruit.
The more tangible, practical types of help are also significant, but we are only responsible to help according to our capacity. Let those with money give their dollars. But we should not silence or belittle the help of those without money because they are offering the only gift they have, the only gift they are equipped best to give.
If anything, I would not be able to offer the financial help that I can offer today if it wasn’t for the fact that I kept writing until someone decided to pay me to do it.
It is ironic that even though Jesus taught “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” I was more worried that “man shall not live on words alone, but especially on bread.”
So now I am learning to write without fear, guilt or reservation. I want to write and I want to write well. I am learning to gift the world and help humanity with the one tool I have been gifted and trained to wield well — words.
This is also to all the fellow writers and “communicators” that feel guilty for not being able to “do” much other than write. Go ahead and give it your best shot. Write your help and write it well.
And when you receive that once dreaded comment of “well said”, may you also hear it as “well done, good and faithful servant.”