It’s been said that “Actions speak louder than Words.” However, Actions…alone…do not provide the entire picture either.
Actions…alone…cannot speak louder than Words.
There are times when parents are asked, “So how do you best teach your children?” A common response that I hear is, “You teach by example.” This usually involves some type of action. Do what you want them to do. Show them how it’s done. Live in such a way that they’ll want to live that way, too. And usually, what they see Mom and Dad do, they’ll eventually do as well.
However, can children usually make the connection between the virtues and morals and beliefs we have in our hearts if we do not explain our actions? How will they know that I’m being Honest…if I don’t teach them what it means to be honest? How will they know how to live with faith, that I trust in God, that I’m striving to improve myself, that I’m being prayerful, that I have hope even when times are tough…if I don’t explain to them what I’m doing and how I’m doing it?
Actions demonstrate what Words claim to say. Actions attempt to give life to the feelings of your Heart and the thoughts and intents of your Mind. But Actions cannot explain such thoughts or feelings.
Words clarify what Actions do. Words give voice to Thoughts and Feelings.
It’s not enough to “set an example”. We must also teach. We must let others know what we’ve discovered to be true. We must express our worries, our hopes, our doubts, our faith, and our actions must reflect such expressions.
The Heart of the Matter
Have you ever done something “without heart”? Have you ever given someone a gift…not because you wanted to…but more because you felt like you had to, like you were obliged to? A lot of occasions are like that…from birthdays, to anniversaries, to holidays like Christmas. You perform the action of giving a gift without any real thought about what you’re really giving. You’re just giving a gift to have a gift to give….so they don’t feel bad or left out. It’s really done without Thought or Heart. And then, when we give such a gift on such an occasion, our words usually match in kind: Happy Birthday! or Happy Anniversary! or Merry Christmas!…more out of tradition than a celebratory expression of love.
Our chit-chat, shoot-the-breeze “greetings” are like this, too. “Hey, how are you?” “Fine. How are you?” Words are said, but nothing was really said. Words devoid of Heart. Thus, our Actions in such an exchange also reflect emptiness. No firm handshake. Superficial smiles. Eyes quick to look away.
I’ve learned to stop and really think about my response whenever I’m asked, “How are you?” It compels them to wait, and I think about my condition…and I will reply with something like, “Partly Cloudy,” or “Scattered Showers”, or some other witty response. Then I get a chance to explain myself, and then I get to ask them, “How are you doing?” If they reply, “I’m fine, ” I just double back with “Are you sure?” and that causes them to think.
In other words…if we’re going to have an exchange of words, let’s make it worth our time and actually talk (words, actions)…sincerely (with heart), with thoughtfulness (mind). Who knows? Our conversation may actually penetrate minds and hearts and we may enjoy our time together…better!
Thoughts, Desires, Intents, and Feelings…alone…are incomplete.
Our Thoughts, Desires, and Feelings swell into Words, and our Actions bring them all to life.
The LDS Lamplighter