In my younger days, I realized the power of words, but did not use words in a way that was pleasing to God. When I was a little girl, I was tall, skinny, and awkward. I did not have a lot of friends because allegedly, I was also bossy. I was teased a lot in elementary school and middle school, and that was before I got glasses and braces. When I was very young, I learned a bunch of words, most of them with four letters, that I quickly found out made me very scary to others. Before I knew it, I could string those words together in such a way that no one was willing to go up against me.
In high school, I was picked on because I “talked funny” and acted like an “Oreo” (in other words, I used proper English and took honors classes). When curse words were no longer strong enough, I started using my intelligence to find words that cut my bullies at the very core of their beings. Sometimes I won arguments by making people feel inferior and other times I won because they could not understand my insults. While gratifying at the time, I know it was not the correct thing to do. Yet, I still continued to be brazen with my words, especially in writing. Then, one day, in college I found myself locked in a room, while several girls waited in my living room wanting to beat me up over some of my comments. That was a wakeup call.
We hear all of our lives that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but sometimes words are even more painful than sticks or stones. As you can see, I remember almost every insult anyone has ever hurled at me, but I don’t remember as many positive statements that have come my way. When I was older, I told my parents that as a child, I would have rather gotten a spanking when I did wrong than to hear either of them say, “You disappointed me.” Those words broke my heart. The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and yet we use words so cavalierly.
If you do not believe that words are important, ask any couple that is on the verge of breaking up with one another. If you do not think that words are significant, speak to members of a family that have not spoken to each other in years. If you do not think that words are of great consequence, talk to someone who no longer feels like they can talk to God. Communication is at the center of every relationship in our lives.
It is an awesome gift to be able to express ourselves, not only to God, but to everyone else who plays a role in our lives. Like any precious gift, we must be careful with our words because the wrong words can hurt rather than heal. The wrong tone of our words can injure rather than encourage. There is the old adage, “If you cannot say something nice, then do not say anything at all.” Those words of wisdom are not just for playgrounds. I am not saying to sugarcoat everything because sometimes people need to be corrected, but even correction can be delivered in a positive way with love. To sustain and improve all of the relationships in your life, use the gift of words wisely. Ms. EV