Saturday, October 4, 2008

IALAC - I Am Lovable And Capable

I first heard this story - or a version of it - when I was training to be Summer Camp Staff at a YMCA camp in Connecticut. During one of our orientation days, Gordon - the assistant camp director - stood up holding a piece of paper. It contained five letters: I A L A C. The skit began.

Gordon - now "Billy" - was a camper. As he interacted with the other campers, and staff - played by other executive staff members - an interesting thing happened. As he was verbally belittled, ignored or disregarded, he'd reach down and tear off a piece of his IALAC sign. Each person he met, said or did something to make him feel unlovable, unimportant and, (how do I say?)... stupid. He went to bed that night with a tattered sign that was only a fraction of its original size.

He did wake up the next day with a brand new sign, but it was significantly smaller than the original.

They were trying to impress on us - the staff - who would soon be welcoming these young children into our care - the power of our words and actions. "IALAC", he explained, stands for "I Am Lovable And Capable". We could build up these kids, or we could tear them down. Very, very easily. The choice was ours. We merely needed to be aware of the power of our words and actions

In a recent bible study, I was reminded again of the power of the tongue. It can encourage and build up, or it can destroy.

I have been on both ends of the tongue - and in both of its uses. I have encouraged and I have torn down. I have received support and encouragement. I have also received ridicule, and disregard. I have seen IALAC signs grow and be torn apart. I have witnessed the same of my own.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue...."

May I choose my words well...

May I speak life...

1 comment:

kristin said...

I always wanted a personalized license plate that said IALAC.

I still tell that story to groups of counselors, youth and even day care teachers.

I entered you in a contest to win a mug from my blog friend Lorrie at