Sunday, July 24, 2011

Words-Healing or Hurting?

Words Have Power

A couple of days ago my facebook status read as follows: "Words have power, God used words to create the world, Jesus used words to heal people, to cast out demons, and to teach us how to live with one another. Our words can have these sorts of positive power or they can be used to break people. To cause pain, to put others down. How will you use your words?"

I was reflecting on something that had taken place in my own life (and will not talk about that here).  As I sat on the computer, hurt, tired, frustrated, and wondering where I go and what I do next I thought...we too often forget how powerful our words can be.  We fail to realize that the things we say to other people are not always just words that go in one ear and out the other.  I am the type of person who loves to talk with people.  I take in what they are saying and it sticks with me throughout the day, week, and even for years. I am constantly thinking about conversations, what they said, what I said, what I should have said, how I should have phrased something.  

It is not by accident that I am cautious and careful with my words. I know that my words can and do have power.  I know that I can say something I see as small or insignificant that strikes a cord with a friend that can send them into a panic or into deep sorrow.  I know that I can also say something that lifts their spirit and gives them a breath of hope.  It seems to me that people do not take the idea that words hold power as seriously as we should.  Growing up we learn sayings like "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" or "I'm rubber and your glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you." I fear these cute little saying have created this false and harmful idea that words do not have power.  While in theory it is nice to have children think that people can say whatever they want but in the end it doesn't matter, the reality is many children go home at night after being picked on at school and have parents who verbally abuse them. 

We have to be more aware of the words we use and how we use them. Winston Churchill once said "By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach."  Words can hurt others but when we choose to refrain from speaking harmful things to others no one gets hurt. That is not to say that you should not speak the truth in love, but we must do so with caution, with love, with respect.

I leave you all with this from scripture,

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.-Colossians 4:6

What wise council we find in this passage. To speak with graciousness, preserving our words so that we may know how to answer everyone-my bet is that we answer in love. We answer with power that builds up our brothers and sisters, that we refuse to stand on ground that breaks each other down, and instead focus on how we can positively impact the world around us.  Speaking the truth in love is not sugar coating reality, it is taking into account that words do have power and choosing to use them wisely.

I am committed to living well with others and building them up in word and deed...and I hope I will be held accountable to that...I am also committed to holding others accountable to the same.



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